NEEP Co-Hosts Workshop Envisioning the Future of Rhode Island Schoolhouses

What lies ahead for Rhode Island schoolhouses? It’s hard to say with any certainty, but if stakeholder contributions from a recent discussion in Newport, R.I. are any indicator, the future looks bright.

After several years of a school construction moratorium, Rhode Island schools are finally seeing the potential for new construction and renovation opportunities this summer. 

In preparation for the moratorium’s repeal, NEEP helped organize a workshop on behalf of the Rhode Island High Performance Schools Working Group, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), and the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources. The workshop, entitled “Evisioning the Future of Rhode Island Schoolhouses” featured several distinguished speakers and participants from varying fields including architects, engineers, facilities managers, school business officials who offered their voice on the future of Rhode Island schoolhouses (slides available here). 

Participants learned from— and contributed to— a wealth of resources regarding current the condition of Rhode Island Schoolhouses and how to move forward. High Performance School consultant Nick Semon helped stakeholders understand the latest update to the Northeast Collaborative for High-Performance Schools (NE-CHPS) Criteria  and its new Rhode Island Addendum, which is a prerequisite for any school seeking incentives through RIDE’s Housing Aid Reimbursement Program

National Grid’s Tracey Beckstrom conveyed the importance of National Grid’s role in the school design process as a program administrator. For example, she highlighted that National Grid would contribute $3,000 to the architects of record for involving them in the planning process, in addition to energy efficiency incentives that flow to the utility bill payer themselves (normally, the school district). 

During the afternoon the Rhode Island Department of Education moderated a panel of varying professionals involved in school construction, followed by a charrette where all stakeholders were offered a chance to offer their input on the future of school construction in Rhode Island. Supplementing an earlier tour of Newport’s net zero-designed East Bay Met School (pictured at right), the day closed with a walkthrough of Pell Elementary, where participants were able to see high performance design attributes in action. 

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