Where Zero is the Top Score

An ultra-energy-efficient building defines a new paradigm for New York’s schools.
Architectural Record
By Joann Gonchar, AIA

Learning Objectives:

  1. Define net zero energy.
  2. Define terms relevant to net zero buildings such as “daylight autonomy” and “plug and process loads.”
  3. Discuss some of the strategies that SOM used to make P.S. 62 ultra-energy-efficient.
  4. Describe some of the challenges the P.S. 62 project team faced in procuring the latest energy-efficient technology for the building.


As an IACET Accredited Provider, BNP Media offers IACET CEUs for its learning events that comply with the ANSI/IACET Continuing Education and Training Standard.
This test is no longer available for credit

The ambitious environmental agenda of a new elementary school by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) on Staten Island, New York, is obvious from the first encounter: almost 1,600 photovoltaic (PV) panels cloak the 68,000-sqare-foot, two-story structure, covering the south facade, extending over its roof, and cantilevering out to float above a playing field. These PVs, plus about 400 more sheltering a parking area, are expected to generate 662 mWh of electricity per year. This energy should make the building—named P.S. 62, the Kathleen Grimm School for Leadership and Sustainability at Sandy Ground, after a longtime deputy chancellor for education—the first net zero energy school in the northeast.

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This course is part of the Education Academy

Building exterior..

Photo courtesy SOM / © James Ewing

Modular, prefabricated components of performance-grade engineered bamboo are used for building enclosures to provide high performance, sustainability, and dimensional stability.


Originally published in Architectural Record