New Orleans, LA

Benjamin Franklin High School

Sloan Helps Benjamin Franklin High School Revitalize Restrooms and Go Green
Benjamin Franklin High School, highly known for its educational excellence and national ranking, is a selective charter school adjacent to the University of New Orleans. The achievements of Franklin students are not limited to the classroom. Because of the school’s strong focus on service learning, Franklin students are actively involved in community and school projects. One such project was the impetus to achieve one of the school’s long standing renovation goals: renovating the restrooms adjacent to the auditorium.

Like many of the schools in New Orleans after sustaining damage during Hurricane Katrina, Benjamin Franklin High School is still trying to rectify certain aspects of the building that were not repaired. Originally built in the 1980s, roughly 50% of the school was damaged by water, which stood for 30 days after the storm.

“In the post Katrina environment, we are one of the few schools within the northern part of the city with an auditorium,” explains Dr. Timothy Rusnak, Franklin’s CEO/Principal. “We always wanted to open our auditorium for community and events from other schools.”

“How the renovations to the restrooms adjacent to the auditorium came about was kismet,” continues Dr. Rusnak. It goes back to last year when the students, led by Dr. Mary Gubala, biology teacher, and Mr. John Parauka, head of activities program, as well as working with other teachers, participated in the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Louisiana Chapter’s Louisiana Green School Challenge – a program that aims to educate the public about the benefits of green building and environmental stewardship by participation in hands-on, experiential projects. Franklin was one of nine winning schools out of 40 who competed in the challenge.

In conjunction, Benjamin Franklin High School was chosen as the chapter’s first Green School Showcase where mentors working with schools began soliciting and managing donations. The mentor, Erin Ryerson, an associate at VergesRome Architects and the chairwoman of the Greenbuild Host Committee, was instrumental in directing the renovation – coordinating donations from more than a dozen manufactures of green building products to Benjamin Franklin High School, making it the Green Schools Showcase during the Greenbuild 2014 conference.

“We benefitted from these chains of events,” says Dr. Rusnak. “Things just came to a sort of confluence. So we were very fortunate.”
Renovating the restrooms consisted of structural changes as well as cosmetic improvements. Because the building is a completely cement structure, it didn't easily lend itself to construction changes. As such, there were challenges involved including reworking dropping electric lines and reorganizing some of the plumbing.

Sloan SOLIS flushometers were among the products donated that were used to make improvements to two bathrooms – making them water-conserving and energy-efficient. SOLIS flushometers not only reduced water consumption, but also minimized energy use. By switching from 3.5 gpf to a 1.6 gpf toilet flushometers, 54% water reduction is realized; and 83% reduction from 1.5 gpf to 0.25 gpf urinal flushometers. Thus, helping a high-achieving school in one of the city’s more under-resourced school districts become a working model of green building efficiency. “Getting schools and students involved in environmentally-responsible practices brings plumbing innovation into common practice while reducing water consumption as well as lower operating costs and improve indoor learning spaces,” says Parthiv Amin, VP Marketing at Sloan.

“We are extremely grateful to Sloan for lending their expertise and providing superb quality,” says Dr. Rusnak. “It really has opened the building to not only ourselves, but also become more comfortable and inviting for people in the community – sparking a re-interest, oddly enough, in our theatre program.”

"Let’s face it, we are a public school in a private school market,” he continues. “Private schools have a very inviting kind of look, kind of tone to it. That includes the restrooms because one of the first impressions visitors get of the school is of the restrooms. Thanks to Sloan and everyone else who has helped us, this renovation of the restrooms really helps convey comfort in an environmentally responsive manner.”

We are extremely grateful to Sloan for lending their expertise and providing superb quality. It really has opened the building to not only ourselves, but also become more comfortable and inviting for people in the community – sparking a re-interest, oddly enough, in our theatre program.

Dr. Timothy Rusnak

CEO/Principal