Homestead High School, Milwaukee, USA

School district looks to align building performance with its Blue Ribbon Award winning high school

Homestead High School (HHS) is a public school located in the Mequon-Thiensville School District that serves these two suburbs of Milwaukee. HHS opened its doors in 1959, and had a $28 million referendum approved in 1998 for building renovations and additions to the high school. Another referendum passed in April 2016 for an additional $18 million to make improvements. Today, the campus houses a population of over 1400 students and staff. Since it opened, HHS has earned the top rating “Significantly exceeds expectations” every year on the Wisconsin state report card.

Homestead High School is a 490,000 ft2 campus that includes a 32,000 ft2 field house, indoor swimming pool, football field, performing arts center, district offices and over 100 state-of-the art classrooms and labs with ventilators. The facility is operated with 34 air handlers and two 300-ton chillers. Homestead has been fortunate to have a well-funded facility. However, they were seeking a way to create transparency for their constituents to demonstrate the results and cost-benefits of the taxpayer’s investments. As a nationally recognized school for learning, Homestead was looking for ways to continually exceed expectations and has found the ability to reach that goal with BREEAM In-Use.

“Supporting Homestead High School efforts to improve building operations with the BREEAM In-Use program allowed us to identify which building operations were meeting the sustainability goals and which needed upgrades. BREEAM In-Use is a great way for K-12 schools to benchmark their facility – it’s affordable and has a very easy-to-use online tool that can be used to engage students in learning about sustainability programs.” Richard Walker, BREEAM In-Use Consultant

A distinct advantage of using the BREEAM In-Use program over other rating systems is its accessibility, affordability and user-friendly online tool. Although Homestead is a sizeable property, the BREEAM program does not have prerequisites; it enables any size school, in any condition, to register their building for $1,000 and quickly benchmark how their school is performing.

Homestead is currently in the process of creating a curriculum that engages the students to help with the BREEAM benchmarking and improvement process –offering students real world insights and an opportunity to develop valuable skills for their future careers. It’s a win-win for Homestead High School, the students, staff and the community.

“Over the past 3 years, we’ve focused on creating an environment that’s conducive to learning. When students are taught in an environment free of excessive noise, proper indoor air quality, appropriate lighting levels and comfortable thermal conditions – research shows they perform better and get higher test scores. Our mission at Homestead High School is to meet a standard of excellence in all we do – it’s our job to create the best experience we can for the students. The BREEAM In-Use program makes it easy for us to succeed.” Kyle Thompson, Director of Facilities, Mequon-Thiensville School District

Why HHS decided to use BREEAM In-Use

Homestead High School has a long history of improving its facilities. Since 2014, the district has worked with Trane Energy Performance to help fulfill its sustainability goals. With guidance from Trane, HHS has been able to review the demands of their equipment and make upgrades so far saving $55,000 per year – over 10 percent of their electric bill.

When Trane recommended starting a BREEAM In-Use (BIU) program to benchmark the facility, HHS quickly realized the benefit of being able to maximize the value of the investment the community has made in the school. The BREEAM In-Use program allows them to bring visibility to potential problem areas enabling them to make improvements to building operations with measurable outcomes.

In recent years, HHS has taken many steps to improve their facilities and conditions for the students and staff. Included in the HHS Action Plan for 2016-2018 is a provision for “social emotional wellness.” BREEAM In-Use has a category on Health & Well-being which can be measured and accurately reported on. Using the step-by-step framework within BIU allows HHS to make informed decisions on how to spend the remainder of the referendum money in a useful and measurable way.

“High-performing K-12 facilities not only help improve student achievement, reduce truancy and suspensions, improve staff satisfaction and retention, but also raises property values. We immediately saw the benefits of the BREEAM In-Use program for students and staff with higher attendance rates, a state of overall wellness, and a renewed passion and eagerness for teaching and learning to take place.” Nikki Robson, Facilities Solutions Agent

 Key Features:

  • 100% LED lights saving $1000 per month
  • Energy efficient hand-dryers installed in all bathrooms
  • Replaced football field with artificial turf
  • Water filtration water bottle fillers throughout the campus

Project Team:

Owner: Mequon-Thiensville School District

Management Team: Kyle Thompson, Director of Buildings and Grounds, Nicole Robson, Facilities Solutions Agent

BREEAM In-Use Consultant: Richard Walker

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