Keeping Faith-Based Education Fresh and green


Bethany School, a kindergarten through eighth grade private school nestled on 23 beautiful acres in Glendale, is growing toward a sustainable future. The history of Bethany School dates back to 1897 when Eva Lee Matthews and Beatrice Henderson established the Sisters of the Transfiguration. They rented property in Glendale and established their “fresh air campus” to give relief to families from the hot city.

Throughout their 120-year history and all of the changes to a multi-building campus serving more than 240 students, their mission has remained the same: provide academic excellence in a Christian environment to students from diverse backgrounds.

Today, Bethany School is writing a new chapter with an innovative green building initiative as part of their strategic master plan. Spearheaded by the parents and sisters, they’re building an energy efficient building with a campus-wide geoexchange system.

“ ‘Rooted in the past and growing toward the future.’ That’s the motto of our capital campaign,” says Sharon Snavely, the school’s director of development. “It’s a really powerful message. We have 108 geoexchanges drilled on the property. It’s the largest drill Duke
Energy has done in Ohio. Best of all, we are living out what we are teaching.”

In fact, the new grade school building is designed to use 30 percent less energy than the average vacant building per square foot. “We take our role as environmental stewards seriously,” says Snavely. “That’s 30 percent less than a vacant building. And it is on track to be the most energy efficient school in the state and the second-most energy efficient building in the nation.”

The campus-wide geoexchange system will feed existing and new buildings, adding to the efficiency of the entire campus. All new buildings and renovations will have low toxicity, healthy building materials, LED lighting, energy recovery systems, water-efficient plumbing, increased thermal envelopes and high-efficiency HVAC systems.

“We are also leveraging the geoexchange system and sustainable architecture as teaching tools for the students,” says Snavely. “The landscaping will include native vegetation and a natural playscape for the students. Natural materials are also the inspiration for the design.”

The project took advantage of Duke Energy’s incentives for energy efficiency. Plus, classrooms will have natural northern light that reduces electricity use and is better for students.

“We are dedicated to the development of the ‘whole child’ here,” says Snavely. “It’s important to foster the spirit, the mind and the ‘heart’ of our students. We offer hands-on learning and a spiritual environment based in Episcopal values. With this new endeavor, we’re teaching the kids sustainability is possible even in a large property. That helps to activate the learning for them in their own lives. Imagine the possibilities for the future.”

Bethany School is located at 555 Albion Avenue, Glendale, OH 45246. For more information, call 513.771.7462 or visit