Volpatt Construction built a net-zero energy municipal facility to house the council chambers, administrative offices, police station, library, and community room. The passive design generates power on-site through a photovoltaic solar system, geothermal system, and a heat pump. A cost-effective solution to address high energy dependency spikes.
The original Forest Hills Municipal buildings were completed in 1922. In order to combat high operating costs, the police station and administrative office required major renovations. The borough decided to replace the two existing buildings with a brand new structure. It was critical for the Council to partner with a construction team that could implement a green design that was also cost effective. The new project addressed the community’s environmental initiatives while offering a functional workspace for staff and visitors.
To achieve a net-zero operation, we installed a solar array system on the roof to generate power to the HVAC geothermal system and other electrical loads throughout the building. A majority of the materials were high-performance, such as Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), that slow down the transfer of heat, air, and vapor throughout the building. A geothermal air flow system was introduced by drilling 42 wells 100 feet deep, to capture and capitalize on the constant temperatures below the earth’s surface while providing free energy to its occupants. Additional energy conservation was accomplished by installing custom windows with thick insulation to take advantage of the natural light and utilizing LED lighting and daylight sensing controls. The building performs at a LEED Gold level, the second highest certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The main priority for the Forest Hills Borough was to tackle their current operating costs by leveraging its renewable energy sources to power the new municipal building. The new building saves the Borough $1.24 per square foot in operational costs in comparison to the previous building.
The construction site sat directly on top of a watershed. We elevated the area using bioswales to address and control stormwater runoff. Our green management techniques significantly reduced the discharge rate into the watershed by more than 64% over the 100 year storm level. Additional water filtration systems were introduced using strategic landscaping of rain gardens and plants that could withstand heavy watering and drought.
Since its opening, the library patronage has increased by over 200%. The occupants are elated to have a space that is comfortable, secure, with plenty of storage that also compliments staff productivity and a positive outlet for its community members.
The Forest Hills Municipal Building continues to stand as an example to countless other small towns who want to embrace a greener way of living.
Net Zero Design
- 2018 MBA New Construction Under $5 Million Finalist
- 2018 AIA Pittsburgh Resilience in Design
- 2018 AIA Pittsburgh Diversity of Sustainability
- American City & Council 2018 Crown Communities Award