South Portland Middle School Wins ACEC Honor Award for Integration of Sustainable Features 

(Bangor and Portland, ME – November 2023)South Portland Middle School has earned the 2023 Honor Award for Integration of Sustainable Features from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Maine. The award was presented to the school’s design team, WBRC, at ACEC of Maine’s 2023 Fall Forum on November 15 at the University of Maine in Orono, ME. 

Some of the new school’s sustainable design features include a geothermal system, photovoltaics, and rainwater harvesting for the irrigation system. State funding allowed the city of South Portland to build a state-of-the-art consolidated middle school, while additional local funding made it possible to include many sustainable features in the project.  

“The School Department had strong aspirations for the inclusion of sustainable features in the new school,” says Mike Johanning, WBRC Principal, Education Studio Director, and project architect. “From inception to completion, the design seamlessly integrates environmental awareness. The school leadership was committed to preserving green space and incorporating sustainable technologies. This award is a testament to their efforts and the coordination with the designers to make it happen.”


Superintendent Tim Matheney has received tremendously positive feedback from teachers, students, and the school community. “This is an amazing facility. The design provides for state-of-the-art 21st century learning and sustainability. Our community will take great pride in the middle school for generations to come.” 

Students were involved throughout the design and construction of their new middle school from the start. Third graders designed their ‘dream schools,’ middle schoolers learned about scale and how it was used during design, and high school students toured the building while it was being constructed. (See time lapse of construction below.)


Within the new middle school, the art and STEM classrooms use the building’s structure and systems as a teaching tool. Students can see beams supporting the floor above, the acoustic ceiling deck, and color-coded piping and duct work. Beyond enriching student learning, the school becomes an inspiration for the next generation of architects, engineers, and sustainability champions of tomorrow. 

Rebecca Stern, South Portland Middle School Principal, is very pleased with the new facility. “The team came together to create a flexible and uplifting environment for our students, one that fosters new and different ways of thinking, creativity, and exploration. It shows what a positive effect a well-designed school can have on a learning community.”  

The winning ACEC Engineering Excellence Award entry was in the Building/Systems Category. WBRC provided architecture, interior design and landscape architecture services, as well as civil, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering for the project. Thornton Tomasetti provided structural engineering. Construction was completed by Harvey Construction and over 40 subcontractors, many of them local or regional. 

ACEC of Maine’s Engineering Excellence Awards recognizes projects which exemplify quality, innovation, value, and client satisfaction. The National ACEC is a federation of 52 state and regional councils representing more than 600,000 engineers, architects, land surveyors, and other specialists. Their primary mission is to strengthen the business environment for their members through government advocacy, political action, and business education. 

About WBRC 

At WBRC Inc., we help clients design and optimize their facilities and campuses. But our ultimate goal is Design that Improves Lives (TM). Headquartered in Maine, WBRC employs 60 people in multiple states. The firm’s full-service professional team includes licensed architects, engineers, interior designers, and landscape architects. Now in our 121st year, we remain committed to providing outstanding solutions to clients in the healthcare, education, civic, and commercial sectors.