The Putney School’s Net-Zero Fieldhouse Is Net-Zero
After a year of monitoring, The Putney School’s net-zero Field House has used 48,374 kWh of electricity while the sun-tracking photovoltaic cells that power it have produced 51,371 kWh. That’s nearly 3,000 more kilowatt hours of energy produced than the building used. That’s exciting news, especially at the latitude of Putney, Vermont.
Designed by Maclay Architects in Waitsfield, Vermont and built by DEW Construction Corp., Inc., the Field House was opened for use in November of 2010. The first negative power bill, created because the photovoltaics continue to produce electricity regardless of the building’s needs, came in April. At the end of the year, all of the usage and production numbers came together to make a zero (plus a little extra). Thus, a net-zero building.
The even better news, according to Business Manager Randy Smith, is that the differential in cost between what the building drew from the grid and what it sold back, because of a premium on green energy, was approximately $3,800. In other words, the building was net-zero in terms of kilowatt hours, but became a money maker because of recent legislation in Vermont regarding green energy production.
The building is intended as a teaching tool. The message we really want to convey is that it is absolutely possible, even at this latitude, to affordably construct an institutional building that uses net-zero energy with current materials and technology. We’re hoping that structures such as ours will serve as the model for building codes in the coming decades.