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Children’s Community School

Mount Horeb, WI

Nonprofit Montessori preschool is one of the first net-zero schools in the state, having completed its new facility after fundraising more than $1 million

After years of partnered planning and an impressive client fundraising campaign, NCI-Roberts Construction safely completed a 7,061 square foot building for Children’s Community School, founded in 1976. The new building is accessible and includes four classrooms, two shared outdoor classrooms, a multipurpose room, a workroom, restrooms, offices and storage. One of the first net-zero schools in the state, Children’s Community School relies solely on electricity and was named a 2023 Climate Champion by Dane County.

Younger toddler classroom
Open web trusses are visible throughout the building.
Older toddler classroom
LED lighting was used throughout the building.
One of two preschool classrooms, used for morning and afternoon classes.
All classrooms have child-height sinks.
Full-day preschool classroom
High-efficiency windows were used throughout the building.
Multipurpose room with interactive art installation
Climbing wall
Information about how net-zero was achieved
Donor recognition wall

NCI-Roberts provided years of front-end support to the client when they were deciding whether to renovate or build new, provided an initial estimate to help gauge the fundraising goal, and assisted in finding the building site. NCI-Roberts engaged in a collaborative design-build process with the client and OPN Architects and supported financing through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Community Facilities Program.

Planning began in 2017 to address a growing waitlist for the school’s programs led by long-tenured staff, as well as an aging facility designed so it could be repurposed into a duplex. A volunteer capital campaign reached its $750,000 goal in just 16 months mid-pandemic. The generous community was further inspired by the school’s net-zero goal; continued giving and grants increased the amount raised beyond $1 million and enabled immediate implementation of its complete net-zero strategy.

NCI-Roberts met with Focus on Energy, the client and all mechanical, engineering and plumbing teams months before breaking ground to determine what was needed to achieve the net-zero goal. All systems had to be electric, even though a building this size usually utilizes natural gas, and the building had to produce as much energy as it uses in a year.

The school’s Montessori philosophy is reflected in the building’s design, which includes a child-sized secondary front door and incorporates the natural environment through outdoor classrooms, large windows, child-sized components and natural building materials.

Secondary child-sized entrance
Color-coded classroom doorways
Large windows incorporate the natural environment
One of two shared outdoor classrooms
Metal panel allows for magnet play and educational display

Midway through the project, a “Make Your Mark” event was held. Current and alumni students, families and staff were able to sign the walls and write messages before the drywall was installed.

The new building allows the school to serve 50 percent more children and their families and offer expanded programming to its students. The project was completed right before the school’s spring break, allowing the staff and volunteers to move in without disrupting the school calendar. A ribbon-cutting event was held to celebrate the completion of this exciting project and recognize those who were instrumental in making it happen.


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