TOWNSEND -- The North Middlesex Regional High School Building Committee voted to allow architects to get estimates on exterior building materials and to pursue additional LEED certification points Monday.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.

The committee discussed the merits of using brick, concrete and metal on the exterior of the building before ultimately deciding to let the project architects get estimates for the material they think is best suited to the project's budget and the building's needs.

Project manager Alex Pitkin warned against trying to save money by choosing cheaper materials that will require maintenance. Metal, he said, could be easily dented and would need to be replaced, while brick is more durable.

"There can be a tendency to try to go toward windows that are residential," Pitkin said. "We are an institution, not a residence, and we want the quality that will last 50 years."

Pitkin said that the exterior of the building will be in keeping with the area's rural character.

When committee member Sue Lisio said that she was more concerned with the functionality of the inside of the building than its outward appearance, Pitkin responded that the outside is also important.

"What happens inside the building can be affected if the outside deteriorates," Pitkin said.

Once the budget is set, the committee could choose to use less expensive materials, but not more expensive ones, Pitkin said, making it wise to budget for the higher quality materials if the committee thinks it may want to use those.


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Committee member Gary Shepherd said he favors brick and concrete over metal.

"I believe that brick and concrete has proven itself over the last 100 years. I'd rather see that than metal," he said. "We're not building a building that we want to have a long-term maintenance program for."

Building Committee Chairman Rob Templeton said the architects should try to find a middle ground in building a quality building while staying within the planned budget.

"If there are ways to be economical and still get the job done, that's the way we want to go," Templeton said.

Committee members also voted to pursue a higher level of environmental efficiency for the building in order to increase the state reimbursement funds.

Though the Massachusetts School Building Authority requires new schools to be certified at the basic LEED level, by pursuing the LEED silver certification level, the project will be eligible for an additional $1.3 million in MSBA reimbursement at a cost of $104,000, Templeton said.

The project is expected to cost $90 million for the 180,530-square-foot school. The MSBA is expected to reimburse at least 58 percent of that cost, with the remainder paid for by the towns of Ashby, Pepperell and Townsend.

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