Exxon goes Green in Style!   Leave a comment

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Exxon goes Green in Style!

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The Lobby of Exxon Energy Systems uses natural Vermont slate on the floor to absorb the heat from the low angle winter sun.  The heat is redistributed to the offices by heat pumps.    Visitors get a great view inside and out and are sometimes unaware of the natural energy systems working around them.

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Who says sustainable design must be colorless and drab?  When Exxon Energy Systems wanted a 100,000 square foot office/research building at Princeton’s Forrestal Center,  Dennis J. Kowal, AIA, LEED AP,  combined a strong design with energy saving features.  The four story building is sheathed in insulated metal panels  and special window systems which are different at each sun exposure:  north, south, east, and west.   On the exposures where summer sun is not an issue, the walls are flat and the windows are in the plane of the exterior wall.   But  windows exposed to the strong summer sun are designed to allow the skydome light in and keep the solar gain out.  The windows  are permanently tipped away from the direct solar gain (see photo above which is similar to the offices) which provides natural shading in the summer.   The low angle winter sun is able to shine into the space, warm the surfaces and floors and warm the offices.

Another feature of the design includes incremental heat pumps which reduce the length of duct work runs; thereby reducing embodied energy in the manufacture process and  consumption of extra resources.  Because the window system is designed to bring in natural light without the glare and summer solar gain, the offices are less dependent on artificial lighting and thereby conserve energy.

A geothermal system was designed for both the air conditioning and heating of the building, but the Department of Environmental Protection declined the permit because it was a new concept to them.  Did we tell you…..this building was designed and constructed over 25 years ago! … ahead of its time in concept and development.  Today, geothermal permits are routine and day-lighting is all the rage, but this is one of the projects that started it all.

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The deep profile of this southern exposure allows for super-insulation and great energy efficiency. The wall section acts like a periscope bouncing natural light in and keeping direct solar gain out.   Day-lighting reduces the energy cost for artificial lighting and increases occupant satisfaction and efficiency.
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 The four story building mixes window profiles based on exposure to the summer sun. Natural light is bounced into the offices (note the bright sloped wall above the window) while glare and heat remain outside.
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Dennis Kowal Architects integrates master planning, space planning, building design and Interior Design to a variety of corporate and industry clients. 

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The site design  introduced concepts that were new at the time, such as bioswales, that used vegetation and root systems to purify parking lot runoff before returning the water to the ecosystem and pervious pavers at the entry plaza that naturally absorbed rainwater.

Also, mature trees were brought into the parking lot to provide substantial shade to the vehicles which reduced off-gassing of car fuel tanks and reduced the heat-island effect of the pavement.  The Exxon building is still a stellar example and precursor to the LEED concepts that are just starting to take hold in America.

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Dennis Kowal Architects help corporations reduce building energy costs while making them look good!

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Unrelated advertisement below;  Please leave a comment about this blog in the comment box below the advertisement or click on more stories from the category list at the upper left top of this blog.

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