CPSD Upper Schools Get New Net Zero Renovations

The+Cambridge+Street+Upper+School+is+currently+being%0Arenovated+as+part+of+the+Innovation+Agenda.
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CPSD Upper Schools Get New Net Zero Renovations

The Cambridge Street Upper School is currently being
renovated as part of the Innovation Agenda.

The Cambridge Street Upper School is currently being renovated as part of the Innovation Agenda.

Photo Credit: Theo Boehm

The Cambridge Street Upper School is currently being renovated as part of the Innovation Agenda.

Photo Credit: Theo Boehm

Photo Credit: Theo Boehm

The Cambridge Street Upper School is currently being renovated as part of the Innovation Agenda.

Juliana Vandermark, Around School Editor

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Anyone who went to a Cambridge Public School Department (CPSD) upper school knows that the buildings are old. To solve this and other problems associated with the relatively recent switch from a K-8 school model to an elementary and upper school one without altering the district’s infrastructure, CPSD has initiated a program called the Innovation Agenda.

Anyone who went to a Cambridge Public School Department (CPSD) upper school knows that the buildings are old. To solve this and other problems associated with the relatively recent switch from a K-8 school model to an elementary and upper school one without altering the district’s infrastructure, CPSD has initiated a program called the Innovation Agenda.

The Innovation Agenda plans to build new buildings for the four upper schools in Cambridge: Cambridge Street Upper School (CSUS), Putnam Avenue Upper School (PAUS), Rindge Avenue Upper School (RAUS), and Vassal Lane Upper School (VLUS). According to the City of Cambridge website, the buildings will be Net Zero, meaning that they will produce as much energy as they consume. The endeavor started with PAUS, which has since been completed, followed by the in-progress CSUS. Once the CSUS project is completed, the city will begin breaking ground for Vassal Lane Upper School.

Sophomore Ih’san Ellis attended PAUS before and during the construction. Ellis explained that the building was deteriorating and in drastic need of repair. “Before construction, the tiles on the ceiling were falling off a lot, and there was no air conditioning,” she recalled. Ellis explained that, for air-conditioning, the school had to bring in portable machines and place them throughout the hallways. Additionally, she said, “The bathrooms were very small and the gym floors were coming up, as well as in the auditorium.”

“The use of natural lighting and various building system controls adds to the building’s energy efficiency.””

— Jim Maloney, Chief Operating Officer for CPSD

Jim Maloney, the Chief Operating Officer for CPSD, explained the building’s completion in an email to the Register Forum. “Designed with a goal of [being] Net Zero, the building has met its final design goals for energy consumption through the use of solar panels for electricity and thermal wells for heating and cooling. The use of natural lighting and various building system controls add to the building’s energy efficiency.”

Originally, the district had hoped to just renovate the building. However, some of the walls, specifically those surrounding the gymnasium, were discovered to be extremely dangerous and unreliable in any type of earthquake, even the most minor ones that occasionally reach New England. Problems with the water and drainage system also surfaced upon inspection. The district began construction at CSUS when Ellis was in 7th grade during the winter of 2016, and the building is still in the process of being worked on.

Current Rindge sophomores who attended CSUS spent two of their three years of upper school in the Kennedy-Longfellow building. Once she and her peers were at the Kennedy-Longfellow School (K-LO), Ellis described her experience as “very different.” She explains, “We had to share a school with the elementary school. … For a lot of classes, we were restricted for some things because it was still the K-LO school rules and it was their building.” The school aims to complete its construction in time for the school to open this coming September.

Photo Credit: Theo Boehm
The next renovation for CPS will be Vassal Lane Upper School.

In an attempt to avoid the obstacles of the move that CSUS underwent, the city is considering a different route for VLUS. Instead of moving to a new location, the city is considering keeping classes in the current building while constructing the new building on the playing fields adjacent to the school. This decision would help maintain a sense of normalcy for the students, but it is also fueled by a couple of health-related concerns. After the current VLUS school was built, it was discovered that there is some toxic waste below the structure. To avoid any contamination or health risks, the proposed switch of location may be beneficial.

“We are looking forward to the completion this summer of the King Open/Cambridge Street Upper campus this summer and the beginning of the Tobin/Vassal Lane Upper project,” Maloney concluded. “The City of Cambridge has been very supportive of the school district in recent years with the renovation of CRLS, the War Memorial Athletic Facility, the new King/Putnam Avenue complex, the new King Open/Cambridge Street complex and now the new Tobin/Vassal Lane complex. Together, the investment in these projects will total over $500,000,000 when completed.”

 

This piece also appears in our April 2019 print edition.