Ahn and McGraw Present at NESEA’s Building Energy Boston Conference

Edward McGraw, President/Chief Executive Officer, and Calvin Ahn, Associate Principal/Senior Project Manager, presented “Using Whole Systems Thinking in High Performance Design: The New MacArthur Elementary School” at the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association’s (NESEA) BuildingEnergy Boston 2017 conference. They were joined by Michael McGough of BuroHappold Engineering on Thursday, March 9, 2017.


In 2011 Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee caused the Susquehanna River to flood the city of Binghamton. The MacArthur Elementary School was inundated with contaminated flood waters and declared a total loss. With the help of federal and state funding the Binghamton City School District had the opportunity to rethink and create a new school for the 21st century.

The result was a new 125,000 square foot high performance elementary school with an EUI of 10 that embodied new models of educational engagement. State of the art systems, materials and site development created a LEED platinum (pending) project that incorporates both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of high performance and sustainability.

This presentation the design team will reveal the collaborative and integrated design process that engaged the Binghamton City School Board, administration, faculty, staff, student and the entire community in developing five overarching visions. These vision statements drove every decision during design and construction. A deeper look into the use of energy and daylight modeling to create an energy budget and select high performance systems for climate control, ventilation and lighting. The development of the site, the form of the building and the use of materials were driven by the philosophical underpinnings of the five overarching visions and the use of leading edge high performance and sustainable practices. The completed project reconnects a neighborhood, embraces the aspirations of the community, provides an exciting environment to deliver 21st century learning and is an example of high performance sustainability.

Commissioning, data collection, measurement and verification progress will show how the project is performing since its completion in late 2015. The design team will also share lessons learned and solicit feedback from session participants.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will be able to apply a collaborative research and engagement process to identify the essence of their project resulting in  aspirational overarching vision statements.
  2. Participants will be able to use qualitative vision statements to develop site design strategies, building form, material and system selections.
  3. Participants will assess the use of data to influence design, comparing how energy modeling and daylight studies are used from concept, through design, construction and occupancy.  Audience members will be asked to share and contrast their own experiences using data in the design/build/live process.
  4. Participants will define and compare quantitative and qualitative performance metrics in a high performance building.  Critiquing why and how qualitative vision statements can be tracked and measured.


About NESEA/BuildingEnergy Conference

The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) helps high-performance building and renewable energy professionals improve their practices by learning from and networking with each other. Founded in 1974, it is a member-driven 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the adoption of sustainable energy practices in the built environment. Learn more at nesea.org.