With an aim to become a global leader in sustainability and environmental responsibility, American International School Chennai (AISC) was certified Gold for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), making it the first PreK12 school in the world to achieve this status using the real-time ARC platform. The school has made use of Arc, an organic waste converter, solar panels and other measures that have resulted in this certification. Alankrit Arora, Chief Business Officer (CBO), AISC, shares the measures undertaken that led to the successful certification.
The use of ARC: ARC is a new digital platform that uses data to help measure and improve sustainability performance across the built environment, from buildings to cities and beyond.
The data-centric approach of ARC connects actions and tracks progress through a performance score that allows projects to track and benchmark progress. AISC is the world's first K12 school to achieve green building certification via ARC rated by GBCI under the LEED v4 Operations and Maintenance rating system. With a simple-to-use interface, the ARC platform generates a performance score out of 100, based on global benchmarking.
It has helped the school to track its performance and areas that need improvement. The software has also helped keep a tab on the quality of indoor air and employee satisfaction to ensure a healthy and positive work environment. More important, the online tool focuses on one number: Consumption. AISC has put in various measures to ensure this is reduced, which eventually translates into a better score.
Eco-friendly practices: The organic waste converter was successfully re-instated and state-of-the-art dustbins for five types of ongoing waste were placed at various places to ensure segregation of waste at source.
It was ensured that the flow and flush fixtures met the requirements set forth by
LEED Operations and Maintenance: Existing Buildings. In addition, effective operations and regular maintenance along with essential upgrades ensured a healthy score in energy performance. Also, solar PV with a capacity of 260 kW was integrated with the building, which has helped reduce overall energy consumption by 20 per cent annually. The rooftop solar panels are directly connected to the grid system and the power is being used across the school.
HVAC support: The HVAC system is in compliance with ASHRAE standards. The school has taken steps to continuously monitor CO2 levels in the return air duct. A direct ventilation control system (DVCS) has also been installed, which opens the fresh air opening intake whenever the CO2 level increases owing to rise in occupancy. Measures have been taken to install treated fresh air units (TFAs) for areas such as the gymnasium and auditorium, etc, thus ensuring continuous flow of fresh air into these spaces.
Saving water and electricity: The school has made use of motion sensors in most classrooms; these cut off the lights when there is no one in the room, helping to save around 5 per cent of energy. Temperature sensors in the air-handling unit (AHU) also help save energy. Other measures undertaken include replacing conventional lights with LEDs and the use of more natural light. Earlier, AISC did not meet the pre-requisite criteria as the flow and flush fixtures were high compared to the LEED baseline when it came to water conservation. These were worked on and revised to be more efficient than the LEED baseline. This has led to a saving of around 30 per cent of non-potable water. The rainwater harvesting system at the campus has a capacity of around 15 lakh litre. And an STP with a capacity of 60 kld has also been installed on site.
Maintaining standards and the path ahead: Periodic maintenance is the key. Also, periodic checks once every quarter by a third-party expert helps AISC be on track to achieve subsequent recertification and provides a platform to think of innovative measures and strategies to upgrade the building from LEED Gold to LEED Platinum, which is the school's goal. Going forward, AISC is working on becoming mercury-free by replacing all existing fixtures with LED-based fixtures. There are plans to phase out all CFC and HCFC-free air-conditioning units. The school is also planning to increase the number of solar panels installed. Meanwhile, during renovations, there has been maximum reuse of building materials, proper disposal of waste and use of wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
In totality, the school spent $80,000 to implement the certification û the payback along with return on investment with lesser consumption will be in the learning and imbibing of the green value system by students.
Total area: 13.64 acre; height: 36 ft; built-up area: 536,810 sq ft.
Year of completion: 2003/2012 (FAC Building).
Year of certification: 2017.
Contractor: Emas Engineers and Contractors; Associated Engineering Concerns.
Architects/Planners: The Hillier Group.
Website: www.studiohillier.com; Eskay Design.
Website: www.eskaydesign.com; KSM Consultant.
LEED consultant: Environmental Design Solutions. Website: www.edsglobal.com
Structural consultant: Optimal Consultancy.
HVAC consultant: ETA.
HVAC contractor: Blue Star. Website: www.bluestarindia.com; Airmech Engineers.
External cladding consultant: KSM Consultant.
Elevators: Johnson Lifts.
Air conditioners: Blue Star; Trane.
Website: www.carrier.com. Carrier.
Lights: Philips Lighting.
Website: www.lighting.philips.co.in; Panasonic; LT Light.
Fire detection systems: Notifier.
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