North Carolina Middle School Generates More Energy Than It Uses

Sandy Grove Middle School in Hoke County, N.C.

Sandy Grove Middle School in Hoke County, N.C., was designed to be an energy-positive building. It generates 40 percent more energy than it consumes. Photo: Mathew Carbone Photography

When Robbie Ferris first presented the idea of a school building that generates more energy than it uses, people were skeptical. Now he can point to Sandy Grove Middle School in Hoke County, N.C., as proof that a high-performance school building can go well beyond net zero and generate 40 percent more energy than it consumes.

Ferris is the president of SfL+a Architects and manager at Firstfloor, a development company that specializes in public-private partnerships and design-build-operate agreements. “We designed the building, we own it and we lease it to the school district,” he says. “We monitor all of the systems remotely. One of the reasons we do that is because when you put really high-performance systems in buildings, you have to make sure they are operating at peak efficiency. It can take time to make sure everything is optimized.”

Three years after completion, Sandy Grove Middle School is outperforming its energy models, and the building continues to win accolades. It recently received Energy Star 100 Certification and has been recognized as the nation’s most energy positive school.

“Sandy Grove Middle School is a perfect example of a high-performance facility,” says Ferris. “With the public-private lease-back model, everyone wins. The students receive a quality school, it fits in to the school system budget, and it is energy efficient to help both total cost and our environment.”

The building’s systems were designed to be as energy-efficient as possible, and that includes the roof, which features an array of photovoltaic (PV) panels to generate electricity. “We wanted a roof that would last 30 years,” Ferris notes. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of success with TPOs, and metal roofs as well. This particular client wanted a metal roof look from the front, but they were very open to a membrane roof on other parts of the building. We made the decision to put the metal roof on the front of the building and a TPO on the wings at the back of the building.”

On this project, the warranties were important considerations, along with durability and energy efficiency. SfL+a specified a standing seam metal roof system manufactured by Dimensional Metals Inc. and a TPO system manufactured by GenFlex. “Obviously, if you’re putting a couple of million dollars’ worth of solar panels on your roof, you want to make sure you have a roof that is going to be problem free.”

A Smooth Installation

The installation was a challenging one, but everything went smoothly, notes Aaron Thomas, president and CEO of Metcon Inc. Headquartered in Pembroke, N.C., Metcon is a full-service general contractor that specializes in energy positive commercial buildings, so it was perfectly suited to serve as the construction manager on the project.

Photovoltaic panels were installed

Photovoltaic panels were installed on both the standing seam metal roof and the TPO system. The systems on the low-slope roof sections are fully ballasted, and both sections were installed without penetrating the roof system. Photo: SfL+a Architects

Thomas and Ryan Parker, senior project manager with Metcon, coordinated the work of subcontractors on the job, including the Youngsville, N.C. branch of Eastern Corp., which installed the TPO and metal roofs, and PowerSecure, the solar installer on the project, based in Wake Forest, N.C.

The roof systems covered 85,000 square feet, and Sharp PV panels were installed on both the metal roof and the TPO system. Solar panels were also installed on freestanding structures called “solar trees.” Each solar tree is 20 feet tall, 25 feet wide and weighs 3,200 pounds.

“The TPO roof system was upgraded to an 80-mil product due to solar panels being added to the roof,” Parker notes. “It was 100 percent ballasted on the low-slope sections, with slip sheets being used below the racking on the TPO roof.”

On the metal roof, clips manufactured by S-5! were used to affix the solar racking to the seams. “There are no penetrations for the frames, and penetrations for the electrical wiring went through vertical walls, not the roof,” Parker says. “There were no penetrations anywhere in the roof system, which made all of the warranties that much easier to keep intact.”

The biggest challenges on the project, according to Parker, were coordinating the different scopes of work and ensuring all of the manufacturers’ warranty considerations were met. “We had two different kinds of roofs, both coupled with solar panels,” Parker says. “Like any rooftop with photovoltaic products, there had to be special attention paid to the warranties of all parties involved. Both Genflex and DMI were closely involved in coordinating details to ensure that the owner achieved a great roof free of defects.”

The building’s systems were designed for energy efficiency

The building’s systems were designed for energy efficiency, and the roof features an array of photovoltaic panels to generate electricity. Photo: Mathew Carbone Photography

One key was developing a detailed schedule and keeping everyone on it. “We would meet once a week and huddle up on how it was progressing and what else needed to be done,” Parker recalls. “We found that by using a collaborative submittal sharing platform, all of the varying parts and pieces could be checked by all parties to ensure compatibility.”

There were multiple safety concerns associated with combining solar panels to the roofing system, so everyone had to be on the same page. “The roofing subcontractor and the solar subcontractor performed a joint safety plan that utilized common tie off points,” Parker notes. “The job had zero lost time.”

“Everyone coordinated their work and it was a great team effort,” Ferris says. “It was one of the smoothest jobs I’ve ever seen. We have not had a single leak on that project—not a single problem.”

Proof Positive

For Ferris, the greatest obstacle on energy-positive projects convincing members of the public and governmental agencies of the benefits. “The biggest challenges had nothing to do with construction; they had to do with just doing something new and different,” he says. “The toughest challenge was getting the school board, the county commissioners, the public and the review agencies on board. It took a very long time—and lots of meetings.”

Photo: SfL+a Architects

Now Ferris can point to Sandy Grove as an example of just how a high-performance school building can pay huge dividends. “As soon as you see it in real life, you’re on board,” he says. “It’s very exciting for people to see it. If we can get people to the school, they’ll walk away convinced it is the right thing to do.”

With Sandy Grove, the school district has a 30-year lease with an option to purchase. Ferris believes the lease model is the perfect solution for educators. “We’re responsible for any problems for the life of the lease,” he says. “If a problem does come up, we usually know about it before the school does because we monitor the systems remotely online.”

“In their world, buildings are a distraction from educating kids,” Ferris concludes. “This is one building that is not a distraction.”

TEAM

Building Owner: Firstfloor, Inc., Winston-Salem, N.C., Firstfloor.biz
Architect: SfL+a Architects, Raleigh, N.C., Sfla.biz
Construction Manager: Metcon Inc., Pembroke, N.C., Metconus.com
Roofing Contractor: Eastern Corp., Youngsville, N.C.
Photovoltaic Panel Installer: PowerSecure, Wake Forest, N.C., Powersecure.com
Metal Roof System Manufacturer: Dimensional Metals Inc., DMImetals.com
TPO Roof System Manufacturer: GenFlex Roofing Systems, GenFlex.com

CertainTeed Building Products Receive Top Ratings

Just in time for spring home improvement projects, CertainTeed building products are receiving a definitive thumbs up from building professionals through Builder magazine’s 2016 Brand Use Study. Based on input from more than 1,300 builders and general contractors, CertainTeed insulated and vinyl siding products were overall brand leaders for the 20th consecutive year. CertainTeed’s exterior mouldings and columns, synthetic and asphalt roofing shingles and photovoltaic roofing systems enjoyed a near-sweep of their respective categories. And CertainTeed insulation products received top ranking in brand familiarity among the building community.

“Builder magazine’s annual study represents the voice of building professionals and value they place on the various key products. We have a long-standing track record as a brand that building professionals trust for beautiful, innovative and sustainable materials,” says Mara Villanueva-Heras, vice president of Corporate Marketing for CertainTeed Corp. “We value their confidence and loyalty and appreciate their continued support. As a benchmark for the industry, it confirms that CertainTeed offers a credible, one-stop resource for builders looking to boost the curb appeal, energy efficiency and value to the homes they build.”

Each year, Builder magazine publishes its Brand Use Study to provide an in-depth look at the brands that builders, developers, and general contractors recognize and use most. Conducted by The Farnsworth Group, products were ranked by ‘Brand Familiarity,’ ‘Brand Used in Past Two Years,’ ‘Brand Used Most’ and ‘Quality Rating.’

For the 20th year in a row, CertainTeed vinyl siding and CedarBoards insulated siding were selected as the No. 1 choices across the board. A highly engineered alternative to wood siding, vinyl siding offered in more than 40 different colors and the widest selection of lap and vertical siding options. Molded from real cedar boards and backed with polystyrene insulation, CedarBoards insulated vinyl siding can increase overall thermal performance, helping to reduce heating and cooling costs. All CertainTeed siding products offer durability, ease-of-maintenance, and are backed by a lifetime, limited warranty.

In addition, this year CertainTeed exterior mouldings and columns were recognized as No. 1 in familiarity, brands used in the past two years and the brand used most. The product category includes low-maintenance EverNew vinyl porch post columns and Certa-Snap vinyl post wraps; as well as Restoration Millwork cellular PVC post wraps for easy, accurate installation around existing wood load bearing posts and long lasting curb appeal.

For the fifth year running, CertainTeed’s solar systems have been selected as industry leaders in the photovoltaic roofing system category. And in 2015 and 2016, the panels ranked No. 1 in all classifications. Apollo II features 60-watt monocrystalline PV panels that fully integrate with asphalt roofing shingles for a clean, seamless appearance. Apollo Tile II is also available for integration with flat, concrete tile roofs. Solstice, CertainTeed’s rack-mounted solar solution, utilizes 60-cell monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels with power ratings from 260 to 285 watts. All modules are made in the U.S. and backed by the industry’s most comprehensive roof and solar warranty.

CertainTeed offers a wide array of designer, luxury and traditional roofing shingle options with a variety of durable profiles, textures, colors and styles. For two consecutive years, the manufacturer ranked number one across the board in the Synthetic/Concrete/Clay Tile category for Symphony, a specially-engineered composite shingle manufactured to mimic the look and feel of natural slate—but in a lighter and more durable form that is a fraction of the price. And in the highly competitive asphalt shingle category, CertainTeed proudly ranked No. 1 in quality, brand familiarity, and as the brand used most in the past two years.

The company’s interior products also got a big nod this year, with insulation ranking No. 1 in brand familiarity. The comprehensive line of CertainTeed insulation products and equipment include time-tested and trusted fiberglass insulation batts and rolls, fiberglass blow-in insulation, polyurethane spray foam, innovative vapor retarder technology, and highly regarded HVAC products, as well as insulation blowing and foam application equipment. The high-performance product line helps contribute to a family’s complete indoor comfort through advanced thermal performance, moisture management to help prevent mold and mildew growth; air tightness to help reduce energy demand and costs; and acoustics by reducing sound transmission between rooms.

Sustainable Home Features a Metal Roof for Durability and Energy Efficiency

A Metal Sales roof system has been chosen to top an ambitious Net-Zero building. Ronda and Nigel Farrar chose to work with Metal Sales on their 3,000-square-foot home in Escondido, Calif. The home overlooks Lake Hodges and was designed to be a model for green design by utilizing commercially available green building products.

The Farrar's dream of achieving a Net-Zero energy design was realized with help from Metal Sales Manufacturing Corp.

The Farrar’s dream of achieving a Net-Zero energy design was realized with help from Metal Sales Manufacturing Corp.

The Farrars are the owners of the new home and its surrounding sustainable farm. The home is one of San Diego County’s first LEED Platinum homes and is ENERGY STAR qualified. Their dream of achieving a Net-Zero energy design was realized with help from Metal Sales Manufacturing Corp.

“We chose a metal roof for our home because it was a sustainable material with a long life expectancy,” explains homeowner Rhonda Farrar. “Compared to other non-metal roofing materials, a metal roof is more durable and lighter, resulting in structural savings when building. Metal roofing also makes our home safer in the event of an earthquake or fire. Due to the reflectivity and energy efficiency of the metal, the roof contributes to a comfortable, energy-efficient living space.”

The home features 5,000 square feet of 24 gauge Magna-Loc standing seam roof panels in Antique Patina from Metal Sales. More than 100 panel colors from Metal Sales are listed with ENERGY STAR and improve energy efficiency by reflecting sunlight. This provides an energy savings by reducing the amount of energy needed for cooling the home. The steel panels are also 100 percent recyclable and contain a high percentage of recycled material. Each of these factors contributes to the home’s LEED Platinum certification.

"We chose a metal roof for our home because it was a sustainable material with a long life expectancy," explains homeowner Rhonda Farrar. "Compared to other non-metal roofing materials, a metal roof is more durable and lighter, resulting in structural savings when building."

“We chose a metal roof for our home because it was a sustainable material with a long life expectancy,” explains homeowner Rhonda Farrar. “Compared to other non-metal roofing materials, a metal roof is more durable and lighter, resulting in structural savings when building.”

“The longevity, reflectivity and energy-efficient qualities of a metal roof make it an ideal choice for a sustainable home,” says Drew Hubbell, owner of Hubbell & Hubbell Architects. “The cool metal roof reflects heat, reducing cooling needs and allowed for easy installation of the photovoltaic panels without penetrating the roof. The standing seam roof also fit the architectural style of the home with an antique patina finish. The simple lines of the roof fit in with the modern design of the home and complements the home’s exterior.”

The project team consisted of homeowners Rhonda and Nigel Farrar; architect Hubbell & Hubbell Architects, San Diego; general contractor Gaitaud Construction, San Diego; and roofing contractor Victor Contracting & Roofing, Escondido. For more information about the Farrar Green Home and Sustainable Farm, visit the Farrar Green Home website.