HAKS Highlights Two High-Performance Buildings

121Precinct-11Clients have come to view sustainability as an essential element of project success.  The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built, and operated.  USGBC uses the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system, which awards points in various categories to determine the level of sustainable certification.  Major categories are sustainable sites, ecosystems and water resources, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality. One structure that has qualified in these categories is the 121st Police Precinct in Staten Island, New York, which achieved LEED Silver certification in January 2014.

HAKS, in joint venture, provided CM/design-build services for this state-of-the-art stationhouse, designed by world-renowned architect Rafael Vinoly.  When the precinct opened on July 1, 2013, it became the city’s first environmentally friendly station house and Staten Island’s first new precinct in 50 years. The New York City Police Department and the Department of Design and Construction commissioned the building to meet the need for an expanded law enforcement presence.

121st Precinct skylightThe $55 million, 50,000-square-foot structure meets the challenges of an irregular site with two distinct volumes—a two-story stainless-steel structure and a one-story brick structure.  A skylight over the interstitial space between them brings daylight into the interior. The two-story structure features a 95-foot cantilever that extends out to Richmond Avenue, symbolically reaching out to the community. Outdoor mechanical services are integrated into an enclosure that is aesthetically pleasing, reduces noise emissions and facilitates maintenance. The stormwater system uses vegetative swells as sediment removers to reduce the release rate and prevent sewer system flooding.  Five bioretention cells capture rainwater and reduce the amount of water entering the sewer system. These innovative techniques, combined with water-conserving fixtures, will help the project reach a predicted 30% water use reduction.

Ribbon-cutting took place on November 18, 2013. In addition to LEED certification, project accolades include the 2014 ACEC-New York Platinum Award for Engineering Excellence, the 2013 Society of American Architects New York Council Civic Excellence Award for contribution to the public realm and the ENR 2013 Award of Merit in the Government/Public Building category.

Another type of sustainable structure, known as passive housing, has begun to re-emerge in this country. Passive buildings use an energy-efficient technology that drastically reduces the need for outside utilities.  A passive house is a very well insulated, virtually air-tight building that is primarily heated by passive solar gain.  These buildings feature high-performance triple glazed windows, super-insulation and an air-tight shell to achieve extreme reductions in energy use and carbon emissions. Mechanical systems are reduced and windows are strategically placed. The Passive House Institute of the U.S. is the leading certifier of passive buildings.

According to the Department of Energy, a successful passive solar home requires that a number of details and variables come into balance. Some of these elements are insulation and air sealing; window location, glazing type and window shading; thermal mass location and type; and auxiliary heating and cooling systems.

424 Melrose w insetHAKS provided construction oversight for 424 Melrose Street, a passive building constructed in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. The 24-unit apartment building was designed by architect Chris Benedict. The necessary heating and cooling are provided by renewable energy, making each apartment’s carbon footprint as small as possible. Each part of the building— walls, floors, windows and roof—was expertly designed with selected materials to maximize insulation.  While optimizing solar energy and heat from appliances and occupants within the building, an energy recovery ventilation system enables continuous fresh air.

Sixteen solar panels on the roof face south for maximum output. The mechanical systems include smaller than normal boilers mounted on the roof.  The heating system can sense when a room needs more heat; heaters are controlled by thermostats, and the heat in each unit is limited to 72 degrees.

The building was completed in late January 2014.

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