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Net-zero field house

Vermont school builds net-zero field house

Property & Construction

Vermont school builds net-zero field house in hopes of a sustainable future

If ever there was a compelling reason for a school to build sustainably, it’s the one faced by Vermont’s Putney School not long ago. Namely, warmer winters resulting from global climate change had reduced the cold-weather sports opportunities the private boarding school traditionally relied on, leaving it with a sudden need for gym space for the first time. Its solution? A net-zero field house that’s on track to be one of only five platinum LEED-certified school buildings in the nation. By definition, net-zero energy buildings generate as much energy as they consume over the course of a year, and that’s at the heart of the Putney School’s 16,800-square-foot athletics building, which opened its doors last fall. Designed by Maclay Architects, the super-insulated, super-energy-efficient building uses the sun for its heating and electricity needs. Specifically, 16 sun-tracking photovoltaic solar panels power the building, feeding excess energy during sunny months back into the grid and earning the school 6 cents per kilowatt-hour as they do. In the winter, the building draws energy out again, but in an average year, it’s expected to do better than break even on its energy use. Other green features of the USD 6 million field house, include low-water fixtures and composting toilets, a white reflective roof and local materials such as site-harvested wood. “We want to show the world that net-zero energy technology for public buildings exists right now,” explains Putney School Director Emily Jones. “It’s time to move net-zero energy buildings from the theoretical realm into reality.” Indeed, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. An eco-iconic innovation to emulate at the earliest opportunity—particularly for schools with sustainability on the curriculum. (Related: Green school with an entrepreneurial bent.)

Email: info@putneyschool.org

Website: www.putneyfieldhouse.org

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