By David Casal
The halls of Cologne Academy, a charter school in Cologne, Minnesota, now boasts stylish, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) lockers in the school’s colors—blue and yellow.
An alternative to traditional public schools, Cologne Academy operates as an independent, publicly funded school district. It became Carver County’s first public charter school in 2008 with 127 students. After the opening, three additional buildings were constructed on the campus, and the school now houses more than 460 students from kindergarten to eighth grade.
This addition of lockers is the first of two middle-school wings for the Academy. When it came time to specify the corridor lockers, executive director Lynn Peterson, along with the facilities task force, wanted to explore the options available beyond traditional metal lockers.
After coming across high-density polyethylene lockers designed especially for a corridor, Peterson and the team found the modern aesthetic they were seeking. Additionally, students had expressed having the school colors in the corridors adds to school spirit and instills a sense of pride.
The specified HDPE lockers replaced metal lockers and are designed to meet the demands of a school environment and withstand harsh daily use. Engineered for strength and durability, and virtually maintenance-free, the material outperforms metal lockers at a comparable price point, providing long-term low maintenance. The material withstands dents and scratches and its non-porous surface resists odors, mildew, mold, and graffiti, making the locker easy to maintain.
“Durability and appearance were just two of the main attributes that led to our choice,” said Peterson. “In the five years since the Academy opened, the metal lockers we have in the other buildings on campus are starting to look worn. We wanted a locker that would outlast and continue to outperform the metal ones.”
The lockers were installed by a team of volunteers led by Matt Lein, a parent of two students at the Academy. Lein designed the new addition and was in favor of selecting the HDPE units. Like Peterson, he also wanted something different for the middle school.
“When we designed the middle school we wanted it to have a more dynamic look—something that was different than the lower grades,” he explained.
The solid HDPE lockers specified are fully fire-rated and compliant with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 286, Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Evaluating Contribution of Wall and Ceiling Interior Finish to Room Fire Growth. They are also GreenGuard Gold Certified, for improved indoor air quality (IAQ). The GreenGuard Gold Certification offers stricter certification criteria, considers safety factors to account for sensitive individuals (such as children), and ensures a product is acceptable for use in environments such as schools and healthcare facilities. It is referenced by the Collaborative for High-performance Schools (CHPS) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
Since the locker’s surface is non-porous, graffiti wipes off easily with most non-abrasive cleaners, and stickers and contact paper are also easily removed. The lockers can also be power-washed and steam-cleaned without worry of rust.
The Academy had 170 units installed in the corridors of the newest addition. According to Peterson, aside from durability, appearance, and low-maintenance, another advantage is they make less noise than the metal lockers when closed.
The same lockers will be specified for the next addition at the Academy—which includes the second half of the middle school wing and a new gymnasium.
David Casal is the director of sales and marketing for Scranton Products. He leads an international team of sales and marketing professionals that work closely with the architectural and end user communities in selecting high-density polyethylene (HDPE) materials. Casal can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.