Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Proctor Academy Continues To Blaze Sustainable Path

With New Dining Commons

The spacious new net-zero ready Brown Dining Commons on the campus of Proctor Academy in Andover, NH. Photo courtesy Proctor Academy

The spacious new net-zero ready Brown Dining Commons on the campus of Proctor Academy in Andover, NH. Photo courtesy Proctor Academy

By Hope OShaughnessy

Proctor Academy, an independent day and boarding school located in Andover, New Hampshire, added another milestone to their long history of environmental stewardship. They recently unveiled a net-zero-ready 16,100 square foot dining commons that underscores the campus commitment to sustainability.

The school’s dedication to energy efficiency includes the construction of a biomass heating plant in 2008. Since 2012 ReVision Energy of northern New England has installed 374.9kW of solar at Proctor Academy, including a new 40.5kW system on the dining commons roof. Currently, IGS Energy, from Dublin, Ohio, owns all of the arrays that ReVision installed, with the exception of the Wilkins Meeting House, which is owned by ReVision Energy. In the near future IGS and ReVision will be working together to install two more arrays.

Scott Allenby, Director of Communications and Marketing, said that Proctor has a long history of commitment to environmental stewardship. Beginning in the 1940’s, the school operated victory gardens run by students, and throughout the 1950’s to the1970’s with outing clubs and intentional woodland management programs taught students about the environment. He said the 1980’s and 1990’s saw the creation of environmental action student groups, on-campus greenhouses, a recycling program, and an intentional living community dormitory dedicated to environmental action.

 Interior of the dining commons. Photos courtesy Maclay Architects, Waitsfield, VT

Interior of the dining commons. Photos courtesy Maclay Architects, Waitsfield, VT

The dining hall is the first net-zero building of its kind in New England. The goal was to build the most environmentally friendly dining facility at an independent school in New England. The construction was made possible due to the generosity of many donors including The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, Texas, after which the building is named.

Maclay Architects of Waitsfield, Vermont, was the architecture firm for the project and brought expertise from many sustainable building projects throughout New England including the Putney School (VT) Field House. Andy Shapiro of Energy Balance of Montpelier, VT served as the energy consultant. Maclay Architects founding principal, Bill Maclay, whose son graduated from Proctor in 2008, said that he sees the dining commons becoming a new social hub on campus as well as an exemplar of environmental sustainability.

Maclay envisions net-zero technology as pivotal in our country’s shift away from fossil fuel. “Net-zero buildings are a new phenomenon,” said Maclay. “Net-zero buildings are technologically achievable, less expensive than fossil-fueled buildings, and are healthy and beautiful — people love being in and a part of net-zero buildings.” He added, “While few realize it, we are in the midst of the change from fossil fuels powering all of human civilization to renewable energy powering our civilization.”

Maclay’s over 37 years of commitment to leadership in environmental design is also echoed in his 2014 book, The New Net Zero Book: The Leading-Edge of Design and Construction of Homes and Buildings for a Renewable Energy Future.

The $7.8 million Proctor Academy building includes the following environmental features:

  • A 40.5kW rooftop solar array with an estimated annual production of 46,427 kilowatt hours, installed by ReVision Energy.
  • 40 geothermal wells to provide heating and cooling year-round. Skillings and Sons of Amherst, NH, built the geothermal system and NE Air installed the interior mechanical system that includes the heat pumps that support the geothermal.
  • Passive solar, innovative and ultra-low energy kitchen ventilation systems and building envelope design to reduce the buildings heating and cooling energy consumption by 60% or more over similar typical food service facilities.
  • Clerestory, skylight and vertical glazing designed to maximize natural light, while minimizing unwanted solar heat gain.
  • Rain garden collection system to reduce waste water entering campus drainage system by collecting 56,000 gallons of water for each two year, 24 hour storm event.
  • Advanced lighting systems installed throughout the building include LED lights and controls that further reduce overall energy use.
  • Constructed using only low- and zero-VOC emitting materials including paint, adhesives, and sealants.
  • A state of the art all electric kitchen without typical fossil fuel equipment (with the exception of the pizza oven) thus eliminating fossil fuel consumption (Proctor purchases all electrical energy from renewable energy sources).
  • Internal separate metering capability will be installed to monitor energy consumption for the facility.
  • Paradigm Windows of Portland, Maine, were selected for high energy performance (R4.35) as well as competitive cost and durability.

Other sustainability activities include a seasonal organic vegetable garden and hoop house. In 2012, the campus initiated a single-stream recycling system to help streamline the waste flow and recycling materials that previously went into the trash. Each winter students compete in the Green Dorm Challenge that encourages dormitories to promote conservation behavior.

Future academy projects include two more new solar projects planned on campus over the coming year with a 45kW array going on a dormitory and an 8.4kW array on the headmaster’s residence. When these nine solar arrays are complete, it will equate to a total of 428.3kW of solar at the academy. The academy’s next large scale project will be to retrofit their field house building with more than an acre of roof-top solar, and other renovations that will decrease the building’s ecological footprint.

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