Tuesday, July 9, 2013

NYC's First Net Zero Energy Elementary School

Green building hallway design in New York City school
PS 62 Hallway Design
Staten Island's newest elementary school, PS 62, will be the first net zero energy school in New York City. The sleek building is covered with a photovoltaic skin able to generate enough power to sustain the school. The school is set to open in the fall of 2015 to 444 students.

The school will use natural light to light most of its hallways and classrooms with the use of windows and skylights. Additionally, the school is designed with a solar thermal system and efficient heating and cooling equipment to minimize energy use and cost. PS 62 is set to use 50% less energy than the average elementary school with only 10% additional start-up cost, with the total contract award granted to the demolition, construction, and design of the new building at $70 million. The school will also pursue a literal green design, featuring a green roof, vegetable garden, greenhouse, and walking track.
Green school classroom in New York City
PS 62 Classroom Design

The building was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and differs from many of its urban city counterparts. Rather than a multi-story brick building, the school is designed to be sleek and glossy with only two stories, making use of open hallways and staircases to allow light infiltration. The inside of the building will feature sloping roofs, large windows, and a light, airy atmosphere. 90% of the light in the building will be natural.

Some of the school's other green features include low-flow water fixtures, demand-control ventilation systems, occupancy sensors, and an ultra-tight envelope to reduce energy loss.

The school design recognizes Mayor Bloomberg's plan toward sustainability and green design. Each classroom will have a digital dashboard that will record the amount of energy used in each room. Students will be given a daily energy budget and Bruce Barrett, vice president for architecture and engineering at the New York City School Construction Authority, believes that they can encourage students to conserve energy through the use of contests and transparency. When students and teachers can actually see the progress they are making, they will be encouraged to keep pursuing sustainability. Similar to Mayor Bloomberg's goal to create energy transparency for public buildings, these digital dashboards will "shame" those who are not energy conscious. "Recognizing Mayor Bloomberg’s and New York City’s commitment to sustainability in general, and to energy conservation specifically, we have challenged ourselves to go beyond building code and design standards to realize innovative energy and carbon reductions exceeding our current achievements," said Barrett. "I don’t think anybody has ever seen a school like this,”

PlaNYC 2030, a New York City green building initiative by Mayor Bloomberg, mandates that new publicly funded schools must be LEED certified if they have a budget over $2 million. PlaNYC strives to meet current environmental and urban issues and create a greener, healthier city. PS 62 is one of the first net zero energy schools of its kind in the Northeast and New York City will continue to be a leader in combating environmental change and reducing their ever growing population's carbon footprint.