The Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy opened its
doors in 2012, but it doesn’t have a single student.
Here, pupils are “innovators.” As its name suggests,
the high school specializes in science, technology,
engineering and math. These are the areas of study
from which future jobs are likely to spring; this is
where future innovation lies.
But the students aren’t the only innovators in-
volved, as one of the newest Chicago public schools
is also the greenest. Located in Chicago’s Ashburn
community, Sarah E. Goode STEM has been recog-
nized with several awards, including an Excellence
in Engineering Award from the American Society of
Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engi-
neers. The school has also been certified LEED Plat-
inum by the USGBC—a first in the state.
As with all city property under the purview of the
Public Buildings Commission (PBC), Goode Acad-
emy was designed with sustainability in mind. At
LEED Platinum, however, the school was con-
structed to an even higher standard than is usual for
Chicago municipal buildings. The PBC selected STR
Partners and NIA Architects to collaborate on the
design; dbHMS performed as MEP engineers while
Jacobs/Ryan Associates handled the landscape ar-
chitecture. FH Paschen was the general contractor.
This project should serve as a model for sus-
tainable design and underscores how innovative
thinking, an integrated design process and the use
of green technology results in benefits to the envi-
ronment, the students and our communities," said
Erin Lavin Cabonargi, Executive Director of the PBC.
Designing to such a high standard began with
the site. The area near 77th & Homan was a brown-
field, the location of a long-since demolished food
manufacturing facility. After site remediation, the
city block was divided in two, with half the block al-
located for the school. Goode Academy’s 207,000
square feet are therefore compressed into a 3-story
structure, using convertible spaces such as a
A solar thermal water heating system on the roof
provides 18% of water heating energy for the school
annually, including both domestic water use and the
pool. The system consists of 19 roof-mounted, evac-
uated tube collector panels and 800 gallons of stor-
Photos: Steve Hall, Hedrich Blessing