Quincy High School Named Green Ribbon School

Quincy High School, designed by SMMA, is one of 64 schools, and only four in Massachusetts, honored by the U.S. Department of Education with the Green Ribbon School Award. Quincy High School was honored as one of the schools that, according to the USDE, have made “exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education.”

“Designing Quincy High School was a challenge because of its tight urban site, proximity to wetlands and fractured layout,” said Alex Pitkin, AIA, head of institutional practice at SMMA. “The new school resolved all of the programmatic and site challenges in an environmentally responsible manner. The ecological and energy efficient features have been incorporated into the QHS curriculum as educational tools for 21st century skills.”

“We were lucky enough to work with people who listened to us and brought their expertise,” said Dr. Rick DeCristofaro, Superintendent of Quincy High School. “Our collaboration with SMMA was extraordinary. I would do nothing different at all because of their leadership.”


The new high school was completed in 2010 and is certified by MA-CHPS (Massachusetts Collaborative for High Performance Schools), a green building rating system designed specifically for Bay State schools. It is adjacent to the existing high school building that dates to the 1920s. Almost half of the 18-acre site is protected wetlands and off-limits for development. As a result, the new school had to be skillfully placed on the site and fulfill multiple criteria, including: Relating to the outdated but beloved existing school building from 1924; healing the fractured nature of the high school’s segregated academic and vocational trade school facilities; and offering sustainable features like a greenhouse, an 800-watt solar photovoltaic system and a solar thermal system. Collectively known as the Renewable Garden, these integrated sustainable technologies provide extensive learning opportunities for students and prepare them for jobs in a green economy.

The winning Green Ribbon schools were chosen from a pool of candidates voluntarily nominated by 32 states. The list of winners includes 54 public high schools and 10 private schools. Quincy is one of only 19 high schools nationwide chosen for the honor.

Making the announcement, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said: “Today’s honorees are modeling a comprehensive approach to being green. They are demonstrating ways that schools can simultaneously cut costs, improve health, performance and equity, and provide an education geared toward the jobs of the future.”