Net-Zero in Vermont: Putney School a Model for Sustainability
In the unassuming rural community of Putney, Vermont, students and faculty at the Putney School are proud of their new field house. Not only does the new building expand the opportunities for the students at the private high school, it's also the only net-zero school building in the country, and one of only a handful that are LEED Platinum certified.
The effort exemplifies the holistic approach to the business and art of education that Putney founder Camelita Hinton first adopted for the school more than 75 years ago.
The 16,500-square-foot field house opened in late 2009. After 14 months of operation, the building has proven itself truly net-zero, producing as much (or more) energy annually than it consumes. "The building uses no carbon-based fuel," Putney CFO Randy Smith said in a recent telephone interview, "it's an all electric building." All the building's energy needs are supplied from direct solar energy, including passive solar heating and electricity supplied by a 36.8 kilowatt array of solar-tracking PV solar panels.
As a net-zero structure, Smith projects a CO2 reduction of more than one million pounds over 25 years, compared with emissions produced if the structure were only built to code, with an additional reduction of 4,500 pounds of of sulfur dioxide and 1,800 pounds of nitrogen oxide over the same time period. The design of the field house is both practical and "deep green," addressing all aspects of building efficiency and resource conservation, some of which include...