Ashley McGraw Architects Designing "Net Zero" Energy Solution

Tue Sep 15, 2009 9:00am EDT

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SYRACUSE, N.Y.--(Business Wire)--
Ashley McGraw Architects is designing a new 4,100 square foot media center
addition at Liverpool Middle School which will generate as much energy each year
as it uses. To accomplish this net zero-energy outcome, the team is combining
new design tools and thinking with a measure of mid 20th century architectural

"Using our energy modeling software, we developed a combined passive solar
heating and natural daylighting system we call the split Trombe wall," says
Peter Larson, principal of Ashley McGraw`s Advanced Building Studio. "This wall
system will capture and store the sun`s heat and release it over time within the
media canter, which will reduce heating cost by 50 percent and lighting cost by
75 percent." 

Larson and his team adapted the idea for the Trombe wall from solar retention
systems used in the mid 20th century, and applied it to the frequently-overcast
northeast climate with the added benefit of proprietary modeling software to
predict daylighting conditions. Combined with a draft-tight building skin,
carefully designed insulation, and efficient mechanical and electrical systems,
the media center will use only 30 percent as much energy as a typical building
of the same size. A photovoltaic electricity generation system that is
integrated into the design of a canopy at the bus drop off near the media center
offsets the 30 percent energy use remaining. This means that the media center
addition will operate as a net-zero energy building. 

The Liverpool project is part of a series of bold new school designs in the
works at Ashley McGraw Architects. According to Larson, "We are determined to
provide our clients with a smarter way to design school buildings than the
off-the-shelf approach architects and engineers have offered during the last 60
years. As head of the Advanced Building Studio at Ashley McGraw Architects,
Larson is working on similar net-zero energy designs including an addition to
Liberty High School in Sullivan County, NY. The Liverpool project will open in

"Few of my architecture and engineering colleagues design buildings with
sustainable performance in mind from the start," Larson explains. "Net-zero
energy buildings - which use no fossil fuels and even return energy to the grid
- are affordable and readily attainable. But their designers have to put aside
their checklists and plan for efficiency from the get-go." 

Ashley McGraw Architects
Sandra March, 315-425-1811

Copyright Business Wire 2009