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  • Sustainability

    Sustainability is a core value at The New School and an essential feature of the new University Center. Certified with a U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED rating of Gold, the University Center will help set the New York City standard for green technology and building practices. The building serves as a teaching tool for New School academic programs in architecture and design, environmental studies, and sustainability management.

    The University Center's innovative Green Building features include

    • State-of-the-art lighting

      Features include high-efficiency LEDs and adaptive daylight harvesting to maximize the use of natural light. Vacancy sensors automatically turn off lights in unoccupied spaces, light shelves help direct sunlight inward, and an automated shading system optimizes solar heat gain.
    • Cogeneration

      A 265-kilowatt on-site cogeneration plant uses natural gas to generate electricity and recovers waste thermal energy for heating domestic hot water. As much as 40 percent of the building’s electrical energy is generated on-site, reducing stress on the electricity grid during peak loads, when utility generation is especially carbon intensive.
    • Graywater and blackwater treatment

      Water collected from sinks, showers, and washing machines and collected rain will be treated and distributed for reuse in toilets, green roof irrigation (funded in part by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection), and the building’s cooling tower. The University Center’s innovative water reduction system cuts potable water usage by 74 percent and reduces sewer discharges.
    • Ice Storage

      An ice-storage system is used to lower the primary air-conditioning system's peak cooling load during hot summer days, when pressure on the grid is greatest. Ice is generated in 14 tanks during the night and is then used to cool air throughout the day, reducing peak usage by up to 30 percent.
    • Sustainably sourced materials

      Materials with recycled content, which were selected whenever possible, represent 20 percent of the building materials’ cost. In addition, only wood certified to meet Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards was used during construction.
    • Advanced ventilation system

      A demand control ventilation system brings in outside air only when required because of occupancy (measured on the basis of CO2 levels), and enthalpy wheels use the temperature of exhausted air to reduce the amount of energy required to heat or cool incoming fresh air.
    • Teaching tools for the next generation of green leaders

        Signs and working exhibitions in the building identify design elements that demonstrate architectural, structural, mechanical, and green building strategies. Student tour guides are carefully trained to introduce visitors to the building’s high-performance features. Back-of-the-house spaces have been transformed into instructional spaces for New School students and facilities staff, as well as professional organizations and unions, which are expected to use the building for hands-on training. The University Center stands as a physical demonstration of environmental stewardship and innovation, providing a useful case study for a special course on sustainable urban construction — see the students'  findings at their course website.

    The University Center at a Glance

    The University Center is the new hub of the New School campus: a 16-story, approximately 375,000-square-foot building located at the intersection of 14th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The building has 230,000 square feet of academic space on the first seven floors and 135,000 square feet for a 600-bed dormitory on the remaining nine floors, providing space for all aspects of campus life. There is an additional 10,000 gross square feet of retail space on the first floor and below street level along 14th Street.

    The academic space includes 50,000 square feet of design studios, interdisciplinary classrooms, and laboratories that are easily adaptable to encourage use by a mix of different disciplines. It includes an 800-seat auditorium, featuring a reconfigurable stage (with 18 electric lifts) that can be set up for dance and musical performances or as a fashion runway; a large cafeteria; a two-story library; a 2,200-square-foot faculty resource center; three student lounges; and a lobby and café on two levels, suitable for performances.

    The building includes numerous spaces for informal interaction, such as the three central staircases that weave their way through the building. The University Center is a hive of activity, visible from the street through large glass windows.

    The center meets the USGBC’s LEED Gold standard, making it one of the greenest academic buildings in the country, and in New York in particular. The architect of the University Center is Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The developer is The Durst Organization and the construction manager is Tishman Construction Corporation.