Going Green: Gateway Building
Our Terry Ettinger visits the construction site for the new Gateway Building at SUNY-ESF. The architects have worked hard to create a building that is a model of energy efficiency.
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The SUNY-ESF Gateway Center is a very energy efficient building.
"That is achieved through a combination of how the building envelope, as we call it, the walls and foundation and the roof are heavily insulated and protected from unwanted solar gain but capturing a lot of daylight in desirable ways and very energy-efficient systems," explained Ellen Watts, Principal with Architera, Inc.
The length of the wall faces due west, which normally means a lot of heat and glare from an afternoon sun.
Watts said, "So we cured that by creating walls that are serrated. We call them flipper walls. They’re not moveable but they look as though they might have flapped into their form and the virtue of that wall is it makes the building entirely south facing where we can shade that with an overhang and allow daylight to come in the winter but be fully cutoff from coming in, in the summer."
For the windows that do face west, they are ventilated at the top and bottom, so they can be opened in the summer to circulate the air, and the building won't heat up like a greenhouse. Inside the building, roof monitors allow a lot of daylight through south and east facing vertical glass, so energy using lights are only needed at night, and on gloomy days. Below the tile is a concrete slab.
As Watt's explained, "And that concrete slab has massive amounts of plastic tubing in it and that tubing is carrying a radiant circulating system to use the mass of the building to deliver the heat and to hold the heat. It’s a more energy-efficient system than heating by air that is common in contemporary construction."
On top of the building, there is a 10,000 square-foot garden roof. The significant insulation under the green roof and the planting medium, and the plants themselves, help to insulate it. That lowers the energy load, which has to be supplied by renewable energy. Everything works together to create one very efficient building.