Gilbane Building Company recently reached important milestones on two K-12 projects in the Commonwealth, as the firm celebrated the official topping off of the new Florence Roche Elementary School in Groton, Massachusetts, and the ceremonial ribbon cutting of Annie E. Fales Elementary in Westborough, Massachusetts.

Upon completion, the new Florence Roche Elementary School will accommodate 645 students in kindergarten through grade four and will feature a two-story design which organizes grade-level learning neighborhoods into two academic wings with shared project areas, dedicated special education rooms and support spaces.

The first net-positive energy public school in the state of Massachusetts, Annie E. Fales consumes less than two-thirds of the energy used by a comparable code-compliant building and accommodates 400 kindergarten-through-third grade students, with five classrooms per grade plus one float classroom.

“Successfully achieving these milestones with the Groton and Westborough communities despite lingering pandemic-related challenges related to supply chain disruptions further solidifies our team’s commitment to delivering state-of-the-art K-12 facilities throughout the Commonwealth,” said Mike O'Brien, senior vice president and business unit leader for Gilbane in Massachusetts. “These new facilities offer premier 21st-century learning environments for our state’s youngest learners, featuring sustainability components of the future that these districts can truly be proud of.”

Annie E. Fales Elementary School – Westborough, Massachusetts

The new Annie E. Fales Elementary School in Westborough officially opened its doors to students and faculty in November 2022. However, on Jan. 9, local and state officials joined representatives from the Westborough School District, the Massachusetts School Building Authority, The Vertex Companies, Gilbane Building Company and HMFH Architects to celebrate the official ribbon cutting ceremony and open house for the new 70,000-square-foot elementary school.

The first net-positive public school in Massachusetts, Fales Elementary School supports Westborough’s goal to be carbon emissions free by 2035. As a LEED Gold and LEED Zero designed school, sustainability and energy goals are achieved through a combination of reducing energy demand and producing electricity with a rooftop solar voltaic system. The school’s ground-floor public spaces—the cafetorium, gymnasium and administrative offices—are built into the hillside to reduce heat loss. Rooftop monitors and solar panel arrays harvest both daylight and solar energy, while 40 geothermal wells enable the building to operate entirely on electric energy.

Since school operations commenced in November, the solar panels have already produced 700,000 kilowatt hours.

Florence Roche Elementary School – Groton, Massachusetts

In January, officials from Groton Public Schools, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the town of Groton joined students, educators and representatives from Leftfield, Studio G Architects and Gilbane Building Company to celebrate the official topping off of the 110,000-square-foot Florence Roche Elementary School.

Designed by Studio G with Leftfield serving as the owner’s project manager and Gilbane as construction manager, the new facility will address growing concerns regarding the state of the existing facility, originally constructed in the 1950s, and accommodate 645 students in grades kindergarten through four.

The new school will support 21st-century learning and Universal Design for Learning, two important components of Groton Dunstable Regional School District’s educational program. The two-story design organizes grade-level learning neighborhoods into two academic wings with shared project areas, dedicated special education rooms and support spaces. In addition, the cafeteria and gymnasium are located off the entry lobby for easy public access and feature a shared stage for performances in either area. Other shared learning spaces include a media center, an outdoor learning lab, a STEM lab with an outdoor patio for student projects, and music and art classrooms.

Since the start of construction in May 2022, the project has maintained its schedule with over 34,000 safe and incident-free trade hours. In achieving this important project milestone, the team took a collaborative approach in expediting the steel shop drawing review and approval periods to support the start of steel erection three weeks earlier than planned. This allowed the approximately 2,500 pieces, or 700 tons, of structural steel frame to be erected ahead of the New England winter months.

Florence Roche Elementary School is slated for completion by 2024.