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C.D. Smith Company Blog

HIGH-PERFORMANCE SCHOOL BUILDING: integrated design construction teams

Date: Jan 26, 2021 10:30:00 AM | Author: C.D. Smith

The Wisconsin Association of School Boards' official magazine, Wisconsin School News, published its most recent 2021 January/February issue featuring high-performance building insights from C.D. Smith's Director of Educational Markets. Reference the article below to discover more about our integrated approach to creating healthy, optimized learning environments. C.D. Smith’s K-12 experts promise an engaging construction experience while building great schools.


Promote positive, highly functional, interactive environments.

High-performance Building Schools C.D. Smith Construction manager virtual design sustainable project Germantown High School

According to the Environmental U.S. Protection Agency (EPA), most Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors. Studies conducted by the EPA and others show that indoor environments can have levels of pollutants that are actually higher than levels found outside. Yet so many of us don’t often consider the amount of energy consumed and resources used, nor the impact on the environment or our health. 

According to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the term “high-performance building” means a building that integrates and optimizes on a life-cycle basis all major high-performance attributes, including energy conservation, environment, safety, security, durability, accessibility, cost benefit, productivity, sustainability, functionality and operational considerations. In a less technical sense, it’s a building that people want to be in.

High-performance Building Schools C.D. Smith Construction manager virtual design sustainable project Germantown High School

In the case of schools, high-performance is a welcoming place that promotes a positive and interactive culture. Students and staff desire to be in beautiful buildings that have more natural light, incorporate outside air and feature wider hallways that serve as collaboration and gathering spaces. Incorporating glass in place of traditional walls, for instance, creates a more spacious and inclusionary feeling, which also serves a dual function for staff to better monitor the building through additional visual access. Creating schools that are sustainable and energy efficient encourages community support, equates to lower maintenance costs and provides a forward-focused environment to support long-term educational initiatives.  


The philosophy of utilizing an integrated team for design, construction, operation and maintenance of schools remains the most widely agreed upon approach to promote and inspire high-performance buildingsThe successful transition from the school buildings of the past to high-performance schools optimized on a life-cycle basis requires the integrated expertise of a wide variety of disciplines, including those who design, manufacture, construct, use, maintain, refurbish, finance and insure our built environment. C.D. Smith’s preconstruction process integrates all major disciplines and decision-makers to ensure an optimized space and engaging construction experience. 


The prominent and revolutionary technology, building information modeling (BIM), allows a complete, 3D virtual model of the school to exist alongside real-time information and analysis tools for life-cycle cost, constructability, fabrication details, scheduling, energy use and many other parameters. When the high-performance building standards are modeled through BIM, school building performance can be readily assessed. An array of design options help foster the goal of significantly increasing the overall building performance. 

High-performance Building Schools C.D. Smith Construction manager virtual design sustainable project Germantown High School

“BIM is a tool that allows the owner to make critical choices on the costs versus benefits on the entire life-cycle of the school building that can affect occupant health and wellness, the useful duration of the building and their pocketbook for maintaining it,” adds Jamie Spartz, C.D. Smith Director of Virtual Design and Construction (VDC). “Additionally, our team uses BIM to solve constructability issues that would otherwise hamper system performance.”

Recently, C.D. Smith utilized BIM for trade coordination on the $47 million Germantown High School additions and renovations. The virtual design and construction team worked with the design team and subcontractors to ensure all coordination took place prior to construction to avoid onsite clashes of building components. This process saves time and money by eliminating unnecessary rework that happens when multiple trades account for the same space within the building. By collaborating during preconstruction, all trades provide input to ensure the most efficient and cost-effective solutions are determined. 

High-performance Building Schools C.D. Smith Construction manager virtual design sustainable project Germantown High School

Another example of common BIM use on school projects is providing 3D colored foundation plans. C.D. Smith has provided these for several schools, including the recently completed $40 million Port Washington High School. The advantage of these plans for schools is especially great because of the tight timeframe to complete work and avoid major construction when school is in session. These plans solve issues so that when schools let out, crews can complete the foundations during the summer months without any setbacks.  

In order to make the vision for a high-performance educational building a reality, look for a team that is committed to holistically enhancing the current and future environmental, economic and societal well-being of the schools and communities in which we live, work and play. The company should have a team devoted to understanding the difference between green building and a sustainable built environment. That team should work closely with district administrators and the school board to weigh the short- and long-term impacts of building green through a sustainable approach.

*This marks the end of article.* Discover more about high-performance building and how we've embraced living green by going for LEED gold by exploring the links below. Enjoy!


High-performance building C.D. Smith Construction manager living green with LEED gold environmental sustainability project

The April 2020 announcement of our Gold level LEED certification positioned us as one of only nine buildings (to fulfill this building category's requirements) in the entire country. Discover more details about this amazing accomplishment and what drives our desire to meet the needs of sustainable building at the blog post: New Corporate Office Achieves LEED Gold® Certification.


High-performance building C.D. Smith Construction manager living green with LEED gold environmental sustainability project

What does 'high-performance building' mean to you? For us, it's a building where people experience all aspects of life in the best possible way; whether it be to work, play, live, learn, heal, create, worship, or serve. Explore the photo carousel at C.D. Smith's Corporate Office project page and discover the project details of how we're reducing environmental impact with OUR SUSTAINABILITY.

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