TOWNSEND -- With the design phase of the North Middlesex Regional High School building project underway, the building committee is considering options for how to make the design sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Building Committee Chair Rob Templeton said sustainable design elements, in addition to making the school eco-friendly, could save on energy costs in the long-run.
"The costs to run the schools continue to increase, so any way you can save on some of these items and use those resources for teachers and classrooms the better off you are," Templeton said.
The committee will be hosting a community forum to garner feedback on sustainable design Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. at North Middlesex Regional High School. Items on the meeting agenda include heating and cooling systems, lighting systems and landscaping strategies.
Templeton said that in addition to potentially lowering energy costs, incorporating sustainable design elements into the building makes the project eligible for more reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
"The ultimate benefit from sustainable design is that the long-term maintenance and electricity and lighting usages should be decreased. There should be less water usage as well. It costs a little bit more to deal with it now but long-term, we should gain some benefits from it," Templeton said.
Although environmentally friendly efforts have the potential to save money down the road, the initial cost of the building project could be higher, although a final budget has not been completed.
"You've got to get past some of the sticker shock and be able to look at the long-term projections. It's similar to if you wanted to put solar panels on your house. You could potentially be making an investment that won't pay for itself for 10, 20 or 25 years. That's what we're looking at with some of these decisions we're going to make for this 50-year building," he said.
Besides the potential savings, building a sustainable school is important to the building committee for other reasons.
"It's a fairly high priority given where the communities stand on those sorts of activities. Townsend is a certified green community, it's important to the students of the day and it's certainly important to us," he said.
Options the building committee is considering include utilizing natural light, more environmentally friendly lighting fixtures and heating systems, and installation and siding that could help to lower heating costs.
According to Templeton, many new school buildings are incorporating sustainability into their designs.
He encourages residents to attend the Sept. 30 community forum to give input on the design.
"It's important from a community standpoint to get people involved. We've been taking the feedback we get into account," he said.