Before our beloved Solar 1 was modified with more desks and air conditioning, it was deemed a ‘Net- Zero’ building, which means that it provided, on average, all of its own energy. But as mentioned in an earlier post, creating energy is not the only way of being ‘Net Zero’. A building must also use energy wisely in order to lower its energy demand in the first place, and Solar 1 does just that! In this post and the next few, we’ll be discussing the technologies that Solar 1 utilizes in order to reduce its energy use and be a great role model for green-energy buildings yet to come.
Do you know what part of a building keeps cold air out in the winter but contained during the summer? Insulation! Insulation prevents the outside weather from affecting the indoor temperature. We don’t want to have ice cold January temperatures affecting us when we are inside, do we? This detail becomes important when dealing with heating and cooling, which are very energy intensive and costly. In order to minimize the energy used when heating and cooling, Solar 1 utilizes Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). What are SIPs? SIPs are high performance panels that consist of an insulating foam core sandwiched between two structural facings- just think of an ice cream sandwich where the ice cream is the foam and the cookies are the walls. SIPs work well because the wall endows a high R-value, which measures a material’s thermal resistance. A wall with a high R-value creates a strong barrier from the changing outside temperature. SIPs are also pre-fabricated and make construction fast and easy.
Even more interestingly, Solar 1 used these SIPs in a unique way because its assembly at Stuyvesant Cove Park was the first time in construction history that photovoltaic panels were, according to the work report, “laminated directly to the Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), allowing a habitable power-generation structure to be erected with unprecedented speed and ease.” In layman’s terms, the solar panels were directly attached to the SIPs during construction—not after, which makes the installation process cheaper.
Overall, Solar 1’s use of SIPs turned out to be more energy efficient and less time intensive than traditional insulation found in ordinary buildings. By taking this small step, Solar 1 became a leader in guiding a new direction for green construction.
Catch us next week for another post about the terrific technologies in Solar 1 that helps keep water where it belongs! Stay tuned.