Potomac's 90-Acre Campus
Since 1904, The Potomac School has cultivated an intimate connection between children and nature. In a series of generous and farsighted acts, the School has acquired a remarkable resource for teaching, in the form of our varied, 90-acre campus, including a wetland, woods, streams and ponds. This inheritance of land is entrusted to each generation of students, teachers and School leaders, not to own, but to use creatively and responsibly, and to preserve for others to come. Such a large and complex landscape requires continual, informed and conscientious management. The School is committed to preserving and enhancing this long-term relationship between the students and the land, for the benefit of both.
Of the 90-plus acres owned by Potomac, approximately 45 acres are wooded, consisting of deciduous and coniferous trees. Both the over- and understory support a broad spectrum of biological life.
Streams and Ponds
Potomac maintains and utilizes two freshwater ponds. The upper pond not only functions to collect and filter storm water, but is a rich freshwater environment for classes to explore. From a spillway, the water descends from the upper pond down a small stream through the eastern woods of the property to the lower pond, which provides second-stage filtration, before emptying into Pimmit Run.
Pimmit Run Stream
Bordering the School property on the south and southeast sides, Pimmit Run Stream is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and presents students and teachers alike with an abundance of rich educational and stewardship opportunities.
As part of a grant from the Donner Foundation, Peter Munroe led a group of students and teachers in creating a wetland below the Upper School and football field (beneath what used to be the Roly Poly Hill). Created in part as a riparian buffer to handle the storm run-off from the new Upper School, it also adds to the diversity of the ecosystems on campus.
Potomac School’s new Upper School (US) and Lower School (LS) facilities were designed to be environmentally sound, energy efficient and high performance. The architects sought ways to connect indoor spaces to the outdoors, supporting the original design of the campus. They also incorporated many Green Building practices throughout the design process, and the School continues to retrofit applicable areas with the latest green technology.
Renovation of the Existing US Building
The decision to renovate rather than replace the existing building set the course for an environmentally sound building process. The renovation included upgrading to energy efficient windows and lighting, resulting in cost-savings and increased efficiency, and thus lowered the carbon footprint of the School.
Green Roof for the Upper School
A highlight of the new US East Building is the Green Roof over the biology labs. Green Roofs reduce storm water run-off and dependence on artificial heating and air-conditioning systems. Our science teachers are finding ways to use the Green Roof in their curriculum. Roofing materials throughout the buildings have been selected to reflect light and conserve energy.
Window Quality and Orientation
In the Upper and Lower Schools, the orientation of the windows takes advantage of natural light. All windows have special glass tinted with a low E coating (the most heat-efficient material in building design). Some have a ceramic frit fused to the glass surface, which acts like a blind and reduces heat buildup.
All rooms with windows can be opened to avoid using air-conditioning as often as seasonal conditions permit. In keeping with tradition, all ground-level rooms have doors to the outside.
Energy-efficient lighting is employed throughout the new and existing buildings. The classroom lights provide both down light and up light. The up light is bounced off the ceiling for light quality and efficiency. Occupancy sensors for light switches ensure that lights go off when the classrooms and staff rooms are empty.
The Upper School and Arundel Library both have long-lasting metal roofs.The Lower School has Tectum roof panels made of renewable and recycled materials, was constructed with minimal waste, and is painted white on top to reduce solar heat gain.
Potomac has a dedicated HVAC plant, which serves multiple buildings resulting in significant energy savings. Additionally, members of our Building and Grounds crew regularly attend trainings to remain current with the latest best practices recommended by HVAC equipment manufacturers.
Motion sensors are used on faucets and toilets in all of our new buildings, and we have begun retrofitting in our older buildings. The new Lower School uses dual flush valves on all toilets.
Four outdoor classrooms were created to allow students to explore various micro-environments on the campus.
Close to the head of the Nature Trails, this classroom sits among classic hardwood under and over story.
Nestled deep in our woods among pine and poplar trees, this square deck with a fire pit is a favorite among students.
Pimmit Run Classroom
As it runs below the Upper School, Pimmit Run sets the back drop for this amphitheater-style classroom