After The Storm

Guardian SunGuard coated-glass products balanced high performance and energy efficiency to replace a school destroyed by a tropical storm.

One day into the 2011-2012 school year, Tropical Storm Lee destroyed the original Owego Elementary School, Owego, NY. Highland Associates designed a replacement building with a high-performing envelope in order to meet LEED requirements. Photos: Guy Cali Associates, courtesy Guardian Industries

One day into the 2011-2012 school year, Tropical Storm Lee changed the community of Owego, NY, forever. The school district had four of its buildings completely destroyed by the 2011 flood and sustained significant damage to many others. One of the buildings destroyed was the original Owego Elementary. Within days of the initial flooding, Highland Associates Architects, New York, was on site working hand-in-hand with the school district, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), New York State Education Department, and the State of New York to assess the damage.

The architects committed to creating an atypical elementary school. “We wanted the building to be an integrated tool for their curriculum and foster different types of learning: classroom learning, spontaneous interaction, small-group collaboration, large-group instruction, outdoor learning, etc.,” explained David Degnon, senior associate, Highland Associates. “It was important for us to ensure the school embody the healing of a community devastated by a natural disaster and serve as a symbol of the determination and perseverance of the Owego community.”

Additionally, Highland Associates needed to design a building with a high-performing envelope in order to meet LEED requirements, including the enhanced acoustical performance credit. While it examined high-performance, low-e glazing options, the building team knew that incorporating laminated glass would greatly reduce the amount of outside noise.

SunGuard SNX 62/27 coated glass was used because of its balance of performance and light transmittance.

In approaching the design, Degnon said the firm considered that a 120,000-sq.-ft. building can be very overwhelming, especially to a four-year-old going to school for the first time. In order to avoid long, tunnel-like corridors, the halls are bent and broken, creating intermittent learning spaces that are filled with natural daylight and views of the outdoors. In fact, the design provides unobstructed views of the outdoors in more than 90% of the occupied spaces, an important consideration given that multiple studies prove students perform better with natural light and outside views.

Owego follows the school design trend to include several multipurpose rooms. Staff want the flexibility of spaces that can be used at all times of the year, which means the glass must help manage solar heat gain and thermal performance.

“The spaces have a sense of relaxed vitality that comes only with a strong connection to the outdoors,” Degnon said. “This would not be possible without the strategic use of specialized glass products such as Guardian (Auburn Hills, MI) SunGuard coated glass.”

The addition of the interior surface coating (SunGuard IS 20 glass) helped bring the U-value performance of double-glaze units closer to that of triple-glaze.

SunGuard SNX 62/27 coated glass was selected because of its balance of performance and light transmittance. “To increase the thermal performance, we initially looked at a triple-pane system,” he said. “Because of the added complexity of the laminated glass, the curtain wall system would have become a custom system. This would have dramatically increased the cost of the façade. The solution was to use argon in place of air for the airspace and to couple that with SunGuard IS 20 coated glass. By doing this we were able to achieve triple-pane performance in a laminated, double-pane system.”

The addition of the interior surface coating (SunGuard IS 20 glass) helps bring the U-value performance of double-glaze units closer to that of triple-glaze, improving performance in buildings where maximum heat flow resistance is desired while still allowing abundant natural light. This combination of SunGuard products, fabricated by independent Guardian Select fabricator J.E. Berkowitz, Pedricktown, NJ, and installed by Forno Enterprises Inc., Trout Creek, NY, has a 60% visible light transmission and a low 0.26 solar heat gain coefficient, for an light-to-solar gain ratio of 2.34. The project also used EFCO System, Monett, MO, 5600 curtain wall.

“Highland Associates designed the school to a very high standard of energy savings using SunGuard products,” said Eddy Scott, Guardian Glass architectural design manager. “Strategically incorporating our interior surface coating boosted performance without compromising budgets or, more importantly, aesthetics.”


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