East Village school sets 'green' standard

May 6, 2011 1:01:41 PM PDT
A school in the East Village is at the forefront of the green movement.

The environmental movement began on college campuses, so it's no surprise that some colleges are taking going green to a whole new level. And one such school is Cooper Union in the East Village.

Forty-one Cooper Square is the new home of the Cooper Union Schools of Engineering, Humanities, Architecture and Art.

"This building has a lot of technological, new things that are both surprising and exciting," art student Rina Goldfield said.

It is almost as "green" as a building can be. The perforated stainless steel panels on the outside help to heat and cool the building, as part of what's called radiant heating.

"It's on the ceiling, and it calculates all the objects in the room and then it heats it," architecture student Jean Oei said. "So instead of having forced air, you're heating and cooling."

The roof captures storm water, which is then used as non-drinking water. The labs, studios and classrooms are made with renewable materials.

"The energy that we use in this building will be 40 percent less than the energy that we used in the previous buildings that this is replacing," Cooper Union president Dr. George Campbell said.

Students and faculty were involved, right from the design stage. Engineering student David Nummey compared it to the older buildings.

"It's just hallways and, you know, you're in a school," he said. "But this is something else. It's really, it has an inspiring aura to it."

The atrium runs from the ground floor to the top of the nine-story building. The main elevators are "skip-stop" elevators, which only stop on every other floor to promote walking.

Its features are both stunning and practical, and while this building is certainly the state of the art for architecture of today, it is also intended to point the way toward the architectural design of the future.

"I thing being on the forefront of pushing being green and pushing sustainability helps us to remember our connection to the larger world," Goldfield said.