Our upstream communities face exciting opportunities to improve our watershed through smart, sustainable development practices. The Cheltenham School District is leading the way through its ongoing replacement of outdated school buildings.
Glenside Elementary School (GES), the first new school district building, opened in 2011. Sitting on a hillside above the upper Tookany Creek, the old building dated to 1956. The school district determined that it was more cost effective to demolish and replace the old building.
New construction meants that you can be sustainable from the very beginning. The building was designed and constructed to meet Silver LEED certification and incorporates many green features such as water-saving fixtures, a 96% efficient heating system, and natural daylighting in each classroom.
Of great importance to the nearby Tookany Creek and TTF, the building fully incorporates Best Management Practices (BMPs) into its design for managing all stormwater runoff. All of the runoff from the roof and parking lots are carefully managed through an engineered system that includes a bioretention basin, pervious pavement, and an underground water storage and infiltration system. These features protect the creek from runoff while preventing the school property from contributing a surge of rainwater into the creek, in an area of the township prone to flooding.
Prior to the new construction, TTF worked with 4th grade teacher Linda Jephson, Glenside Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), and the Cheltenham Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) with funding from TreeVitalize and the Royal Bank of Canada to establish the buffer. In addition to protecting the creek, this buffer provides habitat for birds and other wildlife. The buffer includes a special outdoor classroom, complete with an educational sign and seats, and is an Audubon-certified Native Bird Habitat. The project was also awarded a Community Greening Award by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.