|Princeton - Princeton|
In University-led studies to be conducted over the next few years, faculty and students from the Princeton Environmental Institute will learn just how much energy can be conserved and stormwater runoff reduced by comparing green features with conventional ones at the redeveloped Butler College complex. Here, rising senior Jessica Hsu checks a reading on one of the Butler green roofs. (Photo: Denise Applewhite)
Roofs on more than half of the Butler buildings have been planted with 14 varieties of hardy sedum. The contrasts in the palette of the many-hued rooftop garden will intensify as summer turns to fall. (Photo: Denise Applewhite)
At the moment, the roof above Dormitory A of the redeveloped Butler College complex is a "green" roof only in the most technical sense of the phrase.
Hsu well appreciates the beauty of Butler’s green roofs. As she surveyed the scene on a recent afternoon, she thought also of the slew of hidden sensors that Zerba, staff and other students from PEI had installed the previous summer.
The integrated monitoring system of sensors within roof layers, Zerba pointed out, was designed to compare energy performance and stormwater runoff of green and conventional roofs. It also makes the roof complex a living laboratory by feeding data through an Ethernet connection to computers on the ground for processing and storage. In University-led studies to be conducted over the next few years, researchers will learn just how much energy can be conserved and stormwater runoff reduced by comparing green features with conventional ones at Butler.
"It’s so exciting to be part of a project like this where we are going to learn so much," Hsu said. "This will help guide us to take real measures to help the environment."
The building, designed by Henry Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners of New York, is green outside and in -- its external envelope is 30 percent more energy efficient than construction codes require, and much of its interior space is illuminated by natural light.
"The design of Butler College meshes perfectly with the University’s objectives to balance sustainable growth with needed expansion," said Mark Burstein, the University’s executive vice president. "Not only does this newly constructed college tie a quadrant of the campus together, but the collaboration between the building architect and the landscape architect has set a new standard for Princeton."
Hsu and Eileen Zerba, a senior lecturer in ecology and evolutionary biology and director of undergraduate laboratories at PEI, check the sensors on a mockup model located on top of a Butler green roof. (Photo: Denise Applewhite)
Green roofs have been installed atop portions of Butler’s dormitories A, C and D, with the monitoring equipment, including a weather station, on A. Green roofs -- also called vegetated roof covers -- are thin layers of living plants that are established on top of conventional roofs. Properly designed, they are stable, living ecosystems that replicate many of the processes found in nature.
Kevin Purdy, a senior maintenance mechanic in Guyot/Moffett/Lewis Thomas special facilities, helps Zerba install a thermal sensor on a conventional roof at Butler. (Photo: Denise Applewhite)
The data they collect, coupled to mathematical models, also will help determine how energy efficient the green roofs are and provide information for retrofitting and construction of future roofs. "What’s wonderful about this design is that we will be able to fully quantify and analyze benefits of green roofs," said Zerba, the principal investigator on the project.
Weather readings and building measurements will be logged continuously. Real-time data, including infrared measurements contrasting the surface temperatures of the green and conventional roofs, will be transmitted and displayed on a new website that is under development. While only faculty and facilities staff trained in safety precautions are allowed to maintain equipment on the roof, the data will be available for many to use in their teaching and research.
Thermograph readings recording surface temperatures taken in June of the Butler College rooftop show the green roof (right) to be cooler than the conventional roof (left). The conventional roof was 107 degrees Fahrenheit, with the green roof registering at 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping the rooftop cooler can cut energy costs, especially for air conditioning, and reduce the building’s carbon footprint. (Image: Jessica Hsu)
The fact that the building’s very structure offers unique learning opportunities, Burstein said, is a perfect embodiment of the goals of the University’s residential college system.
The five contemporary two- to four-story dormitories, which are connected below grade on the lower level, are adorned with warm red brick accented with limestone. Architect Henry Cobb said he purposely sought to enliven the architecture through the narrow bands of limestone as well as the irregularly spaced wave-like undulations on the buildings’ fronts that allow for larger bedrooms in upper-class suites. (Photo: Brian Wilson)
And beauty is also a key part of the equation. The five contemporary two- to four-story dormitories, constructed on the site of the old Butler College residences, are adorned with warm red brick accented with limestone.
Butler Memorial Court honors the group of classes that generously supported Butler in the past and is paved with bluestone salvaged from the original buildings. The unique gathering place houses a 5,000-gallon underground stormwater storage tank to collect rainwater runoff from the roofs to irrigate the landscaping. (Photo: Brian Wilson)
"The Butler College amphitheatre is a contemporary courtyard landscape that provides open-air access between different building levels to create a landscape center for the new residential college," said Michael Van Valkenburgh, principal of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the landscape architect. "Ramped grass paths create access along arced stone walls, resulting in a dynamic and embracing space for studying, socializing or larger special events."
The new Butler complex is expected to house 283 in student rooms such as this one. There will be 41 single suites that consist of two single rooms with a bathroom between them; 59 quad suites with two bedrooms, common area and private bathroom to house four students each; plus six residential college adviser suites, two resident graduate student suites and one resident faculty suite. (Photo: Brian Wilson)
Alumni also have supported the green roof monitoring project. It has received funding from the High Meadows Foundation, which was co-founded by Carl Ferenbach, a 1964 Princeton graduate who is a member of the University’s Board of Trustees, and his wife, Judy. Other supporters include PEI, the Community-Based Learning Initiative and the University’s facilities department .
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From top to bottom, Butler will be a living environmental laboratory
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