Kroon Hall going for platinum

Students enjoy the café and study area, left and top right, respectively, under the canopy of the vaulted ceiling on Kroon Hall’s third floor; bottom right, the entrance to Kroon Hall, which is awaiting confirmation of LEED Platinum certification.
Students enjoy the café and study area, left and top right, respectively, under the canopy of the vaulted ceiling on Kroon Hall’s third floor; bottom right, the entrance to Kroon Hall, which is awaiting confirmation of LEED Platinum certification. Photo by Katie Falloon.

One year after its opening, Kroon Hall will soon be the seventh Yale structure to be recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council as a sustainable building.

The council is likely to approve Kroon Hall’s application for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification — the highest rating the group awards — in late December or early January, according to several Kroon Hall project managers. While the new home of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, which opened at the end of last year, has experienced some mechanical issues related to its sustainable construction, these are common to any new building, said Yale engineer David Spalding, Kroon’s program manager.

The U.S. Green Building Council began reviewing the building in July, said Kroon Hall project manager Shanta Tucker, who works for sustainable consulting company Atelier Ten, a third-party group that is measuring Kroon’s sustainability.

Atelier Ten recently compared Kroon Hall’s energy savings with standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating program, Tucker said. And the company’s preliminary results have shown that Kroon Hall meets all requirements for LEED certification, Tucker said.

Kroon Hall has used 57.7 percent less energy than a similar modern building, Tucker said. The savings in the electricity bill has been calculated recently at $105,000, she said. In addition, because the building uses non-drinkable water for its toilets and landscaping, Tucker said, it has used 81.3 percent less water than a similar modern building.

The building produces most of its electricity from solar panels on the roof and solar water heaters, Spalding said. The remainder of the energy is purchased from power companies.

To help save electricity, the building uses fluorescent fixtures and lamps as well as occupancy sensors, which track when someone is in a room, Tucker said. The shape of the building, she added, takes advantage of the fact that most sunlight comes from the south in the Northern Hemisphere, increasing lighting and heating. In addition, wooden panels that partially cover the glass on the eastern and western sides of the building provide shade without blocking the sun completely, Tucker said. The narrow main hallway of the building improves air circulation and reduces air conditioning needs, she added.

Although the building has met initial sustainability projections, Kroon has encountered several mechanical problems.

“Any new building takes a full year to get the systems running properly, and Kroon is no different,” Spalding said. “I expect that the data from the second full year of operation will begin to show the true energy efficiency of the building.”

Spalding added that Kroon’s energy data from its first year will not represent the building’s maximum efficiency because new systems, like the ground source heat pumps that warm or cool the building depending on the season, tend to need fine-tuning, Spalding said.

When the building opened at the end of last year, the heat pumps — which draw water from four wells located 1,500 feet underground in the Sachem’s Wood neighborhood — were clogged with sediment, said Environment School deputy dean Alan Brewster. But after realigning the well holes and putting in new filters to remove pollutants, he added, the system is now functioning well.

Currently, six other Yale buildings have received LEED certification: the Class of 1954 Chemistry Research Building on Science Hill is LEED Silver; the Malone Center on Prospect Street, Stoeckel Hall, Rudolph Hall and the Amistad Street Building have received LEED Gold certification; and the Sculpture Building on Edgewood Avenue received LEED Platinum. Two laboratories in the Sterling Hall of Medicine on Cedar Street have received LEED Gold. The renovation of the Brady Memorial Laboratory also earned LEED Gold.

Kroon was designed by the London-based Hopkins Architects in partnership with local firm Centerbrook Architects & Planner.

Correction: Dec. 2, 2009

The original version of this article understated the number of Yale buildings that have received LEED certification. There are six; Stoeckel Hall and Rudolph Hall recently earned LEED Gold status. The renovation of the Brady Memorial Laboratory also earned LEED Gold.

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