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PHOTOS: Look Inside NYC's First 'Net-Zero' Energy Green School

By Nicholas Rizzi | October 23, 2015 9:00am
 Staten Island's P.S. 62 officially dedicated the school to Kathleen Grimm on Thursday.
P.S. 62 Tour
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ROSSVILLE — The city's first "net-zero" energy school held its ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday and dedicated the building to Kathleen Grimm, a longtime deputy chancellor who died in February. 

P.S. 62, at 644 Bloomingdale Rd., officially became the Kathleen Grimm School of Leadership and Sustainability at Sandy Ground and promises to produce as much energy as it consumes.

"It's a day of celebration because we're starting a school that's going to set a lot of standards and I'm always proud of New York to get there first," Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said.

"It's also bittersweet because it's named after a woman I admire tremendously."

P.S. 62's architectural design makes it 50% more energy efficient than other new schools and comes with several ways to create power inside, said Christopher McCready, managing director of the school's designer Skidmore, Owings & Merill.

The 68,200 square-foot school has a wind turbine, geothermal wells to cool and heat water and a design aimed to catch sunlight and avoid the need for electrical light. 

The school also has bicycles in the gym where students can pedal to create energy — with their wattage displayed on a screen in the front of the room. Its 2,000 photovoltaic solar panels generate enough electricity daily to power the Staten Island Ferry for about 15 hours, McCready said.

The roof of the building has a greenhouse and garden where students can learn to grow fruits and vegetables to be used in the cafeteria or give out during community events.

"The intention is that the food that is grown will be used in our cafeteria, as well as to support parent and community events," said Principal Lisa Sarnicola.

"If we have a PTA meeting and students grew strawberries at that point we would offer the strawberries to the community."

The building is also equipped with displays that show students their energy usage goal and how much of it they already used up and which grade and wing of the building created the most energy, McCready said.

"If there's times where the building is using more energy than budgeted, the students will know and they'll start thinking about other ways to save energy," McCready said.

Teachers will also show their students how the building works so they can eventually help lead tours of it to people in the community, Sarnicola said.

After four years of planning and construction, the $69 million school opened for their first day of classes in September and eventually will house 444 students from kindergarten to 5th grade, the Department of Education said.

The school is also named after the Sandy Ground community — New York's first post-slavery black settlement which was set up in Rossville — and will feature a permanent exhibit with photographs and artifacts from the area.