North Country School unveils green building

LAKE PLACID - One local institution is raising the bar when it comes to sustainable building practices.

North Country School and Camp Treetops held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 15 to unveil its newest house, an 8,000-square foot residence for students and faculty that boasts 'net zero' energy consumption.

David Hochschartner, head of the school, said the new building not only provides a great new space, but a model of how to build for energy efficiency.

"There is really no excuse for us not to do this very important work," Hochschartner said, noting how the facility saves energy and money while providing a fun and comfortable environment for students and teacher-families. "You can lower your carbon footprint, and at the same time, you can do something that's child-friendly and you can do something that's practical."

Photovoltaic panels installed on the roof are expected to produce sufficient electricity not only to meet the building's electric needs, but at certain times of the year to feed surplus power back into the grid.

This surplus will offset the additional power needed during the winter's peak lighting and heating season, rendering the building a "net zero" consumer of energy - one that produces as much energy as it consumes.

Occupancy-sensored lights turn themselves off when no one is in a room. All windows are triple pane to keep in warmth, and "solatubes," reflective mini-skylights that bring additional natural light to interior spaces.

A wastewater heat reclaim system conserves the energy from bathwater going down the drain, and a sophisticated energy recover ventilator keeps heat and moisture in the building while supplying fresh indoor air. A high-mass, masonry wood heater in the great room provides efficient heating, circulated by a clean air exchange system.

"We can't afford not to think about the future," said Assemblywoman Teresa R. Sayward, R-Willsboro, praising the new building as one of several recent projects that make the Adirondacks a leader in going green.

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