Architecture firm SOM recently completed New York City’s first net-zero energy school, a beautiful photovoltaic-clad building that’s also the country’s first net-zero school east of the Mississippi River. Named after former NYC Department of Education Deputy Chancellor, the Kathleen Grimm School of Leadership and Sustainability at Sandy Ground, or P.S. 62, is designed to produce as much renewable energy on-site as it uses annually. Located on Staten Island, the light-filled building is powered by nearly 1,600 rooftop solar panels, a wind turbine, geothermal wells, and other clean-energy sources.
Situated on a 3.5-acre site, the 68,000-square-foot elementary school is topped with a cantilevered R-30 roof that floats above a grass playing field. The structure is clad on the north, east, and west facades in ribbed precast-concrete panels. Each panel towers up to thirty feet in height and is anchored on the top and bottom to create a tight envelope that minimizes unwanted penetrations of the air and vapor barrier. Triple-glazed windows with brightly colored window frames punctuate the facade.
Ample natural light streams through the building’s numerous windows and skylights, achieving 90-percent daylight autonomy in the classrooms. The effects of natural light are strengthened with the use of white or light-colored vinyl tile flooring, ceramic wall tile, and suspended ceilings throughout the interior. An outdoor air system, with energy recovery and demand control ventilation, pumps fresh air into the school. 80 geothermal wells drilled beneath the school’s athletic field provide heat and cooling.
The two-story school serves 444 pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students and consumes less than half the energy required to power an NYC School Construction Authority (SCA)-standard school. The curriculum also highlights topics of sustainability and energy, and interactive dashboards with real-time data on energy usage and production are located throughout the school. P.S. 62 was conceived as a pilot project to help inform new school construction and is the SCA’s first “sustainability lab.”
“By pushing for higher environmental performance with our design, we have a remarkable opportunity to define a new standard for energy-efficient school buildings in New York City and worldwide,” said SOM Design Partner Roger Duffy.
Images via SOM, © James Ewing | OTTO; Aerial shots © SOM