Experts want new AHS to be energy-efficient | AspenTimes.com
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Experts want new AHS to be energy-efficient

Jeremy Heiman

Administrators and energy conservation experts are collaborating on plans to make Aspen’s new high school and recreation center more energy-efficient.

When completed, the 105,000-square-foot addition to the high school and the planned Iselin Park Recreation Center, at 80,000 square feet, will be two of the largest buildings in the upper valley. Though both buildings got through preliminary design stages without thorough attention to energy savings, talks are now under way to improve the plans from an energy standpoint.

Efficiency proponents say these buildings should not only be saving the public energy and money, they should also serve to educate their young users to the wide range of energy-saving technologies available today.

CORE, the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, is leading the push to make both buildings as “green” as is practical. CORE is assembling a group of experts in the field of energy efficiency to work with architects and administrators to develop efficiency plans for the buildings.

“There’s a bunch of people whose intelligence we want to tap,” said Randy Udall, executive director of CORE. Making the buildings more energy-efficient will not only produce much less carbon dioxide and save big money on utility bills, but can also make the buildings better places to learn and recreate.

“By putting in more work and thought at the front end, we can improve the performance of those buildings,” Udall said.

Dave Houghton of Crested Butte has agreed to be the consulting mechanical engineer on the rec center project. Houghton formerly worked with the Rocky Mountain Institute and E Source, a Boulder energy-efficiency consulting office.

Robert Sardinsky, of the Basalt firm Rising Sun Enterprises, will provide advice on lighting and daylighting for the school building. Udall noted that outside light is very important in educational situations.

“There’s a lot of research that shows that kids do better in daylighting,” he said of the use of natural light to reduce the amount of artificial light and electricity needed.

Mike Tierney, owner of Aspen Solar Systems, will consult on solar energy possibilities for the school project.

The rec center, from an energy standpoint, is a real challenge, Udall said. The challenge will be saving energy while maintaining a polar environment in the ice rink section and what is essentially a tropical environment in the swimming pool area, year-round.

Udall said the group’s thinking on the rec center calls for installing microturbines that use natural gas to produce electricity on site. The waste heat from combustion would be used to heat the pool area, making more efficient use of the natural gas. This dual use of energy from a single source is known as cogeneration.

“It’s going to save an enormous amount of carbon dioxide,” Udall said, “in excess of 500,000 pounds of CO2 each year.”

The microturbines would be purchased with funds from the Aspen/Pitkin County Renewable Energy Mitigation Program, which allows new houses to make a payment to the program instead of building in “green” features.

Other improvements that may be on tap for the rec center are daylighting, improved insulation and windows and more efficient boilers.

The rec center project, which is expected to get under way in the spring, is headed up by Steve Bossart, project manager with the city of Aspen’s Asset Management Department. Bossart said he has talked with an architectural firm and CORE, pinpointing areas of the design which could be made more efficient and discussing the cost-effectiveness of various improvements.

“What CORE asked the architects was, `If you were to step up to the next level of efficiency, what would it cost?'” Bossart said.

“A certain compressor might have a certain capital cost, but it might have a certain payback,” he said.

Principal Kendall Evans said the same concerns are the subject of discussions on the high school project. Aspects being considered for energy-saving potential in the new school include: lighting, heating and ventilation, building materials and construction waste, siding, water use, sources of energy and the heat produced by computers and office equipment.

“We’re looking at each of those areas as starting points,” Evans said. “We didn’t want to build a building where, 20 years from now, people couldn’t afford to turn on the heat or the lights.

“We’re hoping that we can be a model for the community and actually for the state and country,” he said. “I’m hoping it will be a statement about what can be done in green design.”


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