“Excellence, Education, Ethics, and Ecology”, is the Willow School’s mantra. A small, independent coeducational day school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, the Willow School is committed to combining academic excellence and the joy of learning with experiencing the wonder of the natural world. Its green campus is nestled on a 34-acre wooded site in rural New Jersey countryside, and the building and its surroundings are an integral feature in the school’s curriculum. Children at the Willow School study the connections between mathematics, literature, history, and the natural world; observing ecosystem patterns and cycles; and sustaining a thriving natural environment.
The school’s latest project, the Health, Wellness and Nutrition Center continues to sing its mantra and expands the students’ vision of stewardship by utilizing curriculum focused on an understanding of food from planting and harvesting to preparation. The 20,000 sf center contains agricultural and educational gardens, a teaching kitchen, commercial kitchen, dining room, movement area, health/wellness spaces, four classrooms and a faculty room. Functioning as a living organism, all of the facility’s energy comes from the sun captured by solar PV arrays, all of its water is collected through rainwater harvesting, 85% of lighting needs are met by the sun, and it produces minimal waste. Coupled with a superior thermal envelope and a hybrid ventilation system that balances fresh air, indoor air quality and occupant comfort, this facility creates an environment like no other to learn one of the school’s core pillars – education in ethical living not only between humans but also with our natural world – by making functional sustainable elements visible and integral to the curriculum. Learn more about this unique school and project, and its achievement of Living Certified status through the Living Building Challenge, a stringent third-party certified green building program.
This project marks the third progressive facility on the Willow School’s green campus. The school’s classroom building completed in 2003 earned LEED Gold certification, and the art barn completed in 2007 earned LEED Platinum certification. 7group partner Tom Keiter has highlighted the school and its program through several videos, including High Performance Building and Willow School.