Oculus - Spring 2011 - (Page 26)

feature Two local teams competing in the Solar Decathlon give their zero-energy designs an urban spin BY LIS A DE LGA DO T Asher Salzberg (rendering), Cesar Juarez (photo background) It Takes More Than a Village o get a sneak peek at what sustainable housing of the future will look like, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a good place to look. Every couple of years, the competition gives rise to research and innovation, as 20 student-led teams from around the world compete to see whose solarpowered, zero-energy house design outdoes the others in 10 categories. Featuring two entries from the NYC area for the first time, the next “solar village” of houses in the competition will be displayed from September 23 to October 2 in West Potomac Park on the National Mall. There’s no denying that the Solar Decathlon is a powerful forum for boosting pedagogy and public awareness about clean energy. But some local designers from the City College of New York (CCNY) have one tiny quibble: Why the name “solar village”? “That doesn’t make sense,” remarks Christian Volkmann, an associate professor of architecture who is project manager for CCNY’s house design. “We are the school of the urban environment, and we have to apply this topic of sustainability somehow to cities.” Volkmann’s team drew inspiration from the urban problems of NYC, whereas the other local team – with members from Parsons The New School for Design, Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy, and Hoboken, NJ-based Stevens Institute of Technology – researched a working-class neighborhood in northeast Washington, DC. Both teams have far-reaching ambitions, envisioning their designs as models for eco-friendly, inexpensive habitations that could be customized and replicated on a large scale to improve city life. Rooftop Remedy: Solar Roof Pod When Volkmann and his students in an Integrated Building Systems class were pondering early design ideas in fall 2009, they turned to PlaNYC. Since the plan predicts a swelling population, the city will face escalating demands on both its power grid and its capacity to provide housing. If the students wanted to settle in NYC after graduation, would there be space 26 Oculus Spring 2011 for them, and could they afford to live here? The designers eyed an underutilized space in the city – its rooftops. They came up with a design called the “Solar Roof Pod” (www.ccnysolardecathlon.com), a rooftop residence and garden that would address multiple city problems. The green roof would offer environmental benefits, while the residence could help “accommodate people in situ, without having to redevelop major areas of the city,” says Prof. Hillary Brown, FAIA, LEED AP, principal of New Civic Works and the project’s communications/outreach manager. “We’re adding solar power, as well, so the extra residents have a zero carbon footprint,” adds Samuel Mikhail, student team leader. After the Solar Decathlon accepted the proposal in April 2010, work began in earnest, becoming a multidisciplinary part of the college’s curriculum. By the time the project is completed this fall, about 100 architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, and art students, among others, will have participated in it. The Solar Roof Pod is a flexible kit of parts, so it can form various configurations, depending on the site and the inhabitants’ needs. The components can be transported to the roof via elevator; no crane is needed. The design comprises three layers: At the highest point is a “solar trellis,” which provides shade and power through an array of PV panels and solar thermal collectors. Below that is an energy-efficient house, which sits atop a green roof-deck. Though the competition requires a residential design, the Solar Roof Pod system is flexible enough that people could create other sorts of spaces – such as a day-care center, social club, or office – or if they wish, they could use only the green roof or solar trellis. Ideally, the CCNY team, known as “Team New York,” envisions the design as being mass-produced for citywide use. The competition added affordability as new criterion this year, penalizing entries if they didn’t keep construction costs to a maximum of $250,000. Because it’s a single prototype, the design (above) In the Solar Roof Pod, a “solar trellis” provides energy for a rooftop house, and any surplus goes to the building below. Planters in the roof-deck offer a place to grow fresh produce or other vegetation. Project Credits SOLAR DECATHLON SPONSORS: U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory SOLAR ROOF POD TEAM: City College of New York / Team New York FACULTY ADVISORS: Christian Volkmann (Program Manager), Dominick Pilla, Lee Weintraub, FASLA, Hillary Brown, FAIA, LEED AP, Jorge E. González TEAM NEW YORK STUDENTS: ARCHITECTURE: Samuel Mikhail, John Vlahakis, Yinery Baez, Asher Salzberg, Mike Cheng, Iskra Petrova, Yelisa Grullon, Carlos Matute, Chris Hopstock, Mary Doumas, Alex Gurevich, Wennian Qu, Teicha Villegas, George Fahim, Farah Ahmad, Ros Pechenyy, ENGINEERING: Giovanny Giraldo, Tvrtko Stigler, Francisco Arias, Ivan Uquillas, Nisu Quayum, Joann Lee, Chetram Dasrat, Suzzy Gonzalez, Rajeevan Ratnanandan, Fredy Urushima, Afua Safo-Asante, Adrian Rybak, Jim Ness, Moshin Shabbir, Zohaib Dar, Amy Leon, Magda Katehis, Javier Montesino, Faiz Zaman, ART: Joseph Fisher, Kyle O’Connor PROJECT COORDINATOR: Jessica Maktal STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Dominick R. Pilla Associates CONSTRUCTION: Sciame Construction CONSULTANTS: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (Architecture), Arup, New York (MEP Engineer) Design for a Change: Buildings, People, Energy http://www.ccnysolardecathlon.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Spring 2011

Oculus - Spring 2011
First Words
A Word from the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
Opener: A Critique of Pure Sustainability
Testing Green Ideas
New Life for a Boomer Building
School Back in Session After 30-Year Recess
It Takes More Than a Village
Shedding Light
What Every Architect Should Know About NYC’s New Energy Laws
Good Practices
44-Year Watch
Last Words
Index to Advertisers

Oculus - Spring 2011