Case Histories (Real-World Solutions)

Energy Efficiency for a Living Building

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Mitsubishi Electric helped the Willow School to meet the Living Building Challenge by providing energy efficient solutions that met the challenge’s guidelines.

When Mark and Gretchen Biedron co-founded the The Willow School, in Gladstone, N. J., their vision was to create a school that provides students with a space that celebrates learning and collaboration, and that fosters ethical relationships between people and the natural systems that support them. Sustainability drives both the curriculum and building design for Willow, so when the school was designing its fourth building — the Health, Wellness and Nutrition Center — the project team selected a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) zoning system from Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating (Mitsubishi Electric).

Willow has a proud history of green building. In 2002, it built the first LEED Gold certified school building in the United States and, in 2007, the first LEED Platinum certified school in New Jersey. Ever the pioneers, Biedron and his team wanted to up the ante for the new Center. With this project, we were focused on taking the Living Building Challenge (LBC).

Each decision the project team made took careful consideration. Vin Farese, principal at Loring Consulting Engineers (project engineers) says, “Every load was tracked and analyzed. Every amp and watt was accounted for. Nothing was missed” while following the rigid LBC guidelines.

Biedron says, “To be Living Building certified, we had to make sure that we were getting our products from within a certain distance, but Mitsubishi [Electric] products just weren’t within that limit. However, Mitsubishi [Electric] quickly provided us with all of the documentation we needed to be able to get an exception to this rule. We proved that their products would be so energy-efficient over their lifetime that the one-time transportation expense would deliver a system that would ultimately save on cost and energy year after year after year.”

This article originally appeared in the issue of .