SOM's New York City Green School, Brought To You By The Number Zero
In 2005 New York City enacted Local Law 86, one of the nation's first green building laws. LL86 mandates all New York City civic buildings be built to particular standards of sustainability. The School Construction Authority, however, has never been all that concerned with this law since by 2005 they were already using efficient heating and cooling systems, light sensors, recycled materials, among other green innovations, building more green buildings in New York City than any other group. The Authority's lates endeavor, Public School 62, will likely trump all its other accomplishments.
This Staten Island, net-zero elementary school will be designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP. The primary green detail that has been unveiled is that the building will produce as much energy as it consumes, yet unfortunately little else is known in terms of the school's green-ness. Interestingly, the school will also serve as a lab for students to learn about sustainability and energy efficiency. According to director of the project and leader of SOM's "Education Lab" Roger Duffy, P.S. 62 is "an extraordinary opportunity to help define a new paradigm for school buildings for New York City and beyond."
P.S. 62 is not the first educational endeavor for SOM. SOM has designed educational institutions throughout the country, including a building at Harvard University, and others in Singapore and Kuwait. SOM's Toren, one of The New York Observer's Best-Buildings-of-2010, was the first project in Brooklyn to use, among many green features, a co-gen plant. SOM is also in the process of working on a net-zero office tower in China.
The 70,000 square foot building is set to open in the 2015 - 2016 school year. Located in the Rossville section of Staten Island, the school will seat 444 students from kindergarten to fifth grade. The two-story building will include all of the traditional ammenities of an elementary school: library, cafeteria, all-purpose room, as well as music, art, and science suites.
Green as the project may be, the issue of land-use is causing a stir among some locals. The school will be built on 3.5 acres of virgin woodland. Locals disapprove of this loss as well as the changes the school will likely bring to the community, such as increased traffic, parking issues, and child safety concerns since the area is not equipped with sidewalks for the students. Nonetheless, the land has been owned by the Department of Education since 1942, yet they've never had a use for it - until now.
Despite criticism, the project was approved by the city's Public Design Commission in early February and if all goes according to plan, it will become a reality in only a few years.