Like many of the schools in New Orleans after sustaining damage during Hurricane Katrina, Benjamin Franklin High School is still trying to rectify certain aspects of the building that were not repaired. Originally built in the 1980s, roughly 50% of the school was damaged by water, which stood for 30 days after the storm. One such project was the impetus to achieve one of the school’s long standing renovation goals: renovating the restrooms adjacent to the auditorium.
Sloan has donated water- and energy-efficient plumbing products for the restrooms at Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, the Green Schools Showcase during the Greenbuild 2014 conference.
“How the renovations to the restrooms adjacent to the auditorium came about was kismet,” says Dr. Timothy Rusnak, CEO/Principal. It goes back to last year when the students, led by Dr. Mary Gubala, biology teacher, and Mr. John Parauka, social studies teacher and activities coordinator and other teachers, participated in the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Louisiana Chapter’s Louisiana Green School Challenge – a program that aims to educate the public about the benefits of green building and environmental stewardship by participating in hands-on, experiential projects. Franklin was one of nine winning schools out of 40 who competed in the challenge.
In conjunction, Benjamin Franklin High School was chosen as the chapter’s first Green School Showcase where mentors working with schools began soliciting and managing donations. The mentor, Erin Ryerson, an associate at VergesRome Architects and the chairwoman of the Greenbuild Host Committee, was instrumental in directing the renovation – coordinating donations from more than a dozen manufacturers of green building products to Benjamin Franklin High School.
“We benefitted from these chains of events,” says Dr. Rusnak. “Things just came to a sort of confluence. So we were very fortunate.”
Renovating the restrooms consisted of structural changes as well as cosmetic improvements. Because the building is a completely cement structure, it didn’t easily lend itself to construction changes. As such, there were challenges involved including reworking dropping electric lines and reorganizing some of the plumbing.
Sloan SOLIS flushometers were among the products donated that were used to make improvements to two bathrooms – making them water-conserving and energy-efficient. SOLIS flushometers not only reduced water consumption, but also minimized energy use. By switching from 3.5 gpf to a 1.6 gpf toilet flushometers, 54% water reduction is realized; and 83% reduction from 1.5 gpf to 0.25 gpf urinal flushometers. Thus, helping a high-achieving school in one of the city’s more under-resourced school districts become a working model of green building efficiency. “Getting schools and students involved in environmentally-responsible practices brings plumbing innovation into common practice while reducing water consumption as well as lower operating costs and improve indoor learning spaces,” says Parthiv Amin, VP Marketing at Sloan.
“We are extremely grateful to Sloan for lending their expertise and providing superb quality,” says Dr. Rusnak. “It really has opened the building to not only ourselves, but also become more comfortable and inviting for people in the community – sparking a re-interest, oddly enough, in our theater program.”