High-Performance Building Envelope

Solar Preheat Wall

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF)
Academic Research Building
Syracuse, New York

The envelope of the academic research building is designed to take advantage of natural processes to reduce energy demand and increase the overall comfort of the building’s occupants.


The double façade creates a natural chimney that can be used to increase passive air circulation in the summer months, and during the heating season provide pre-heated air that can be introduced into the mechanical system to temper the cold, incoming supply air.


Light-reflecting fins at the strip windows of the laboratory spaces are set at the optimal angle for this latitude to direct natural sunlight deep into the spaces. The interior ceiling plane closest to the exterior wall is also set at an angle to help bounce the fin-reflected light further into the labs.


Rain water is harvested to supplement irrigation systems in the greenhouses and planted roofscapes, while also recharging the planned marsh environment landscaping and local ground water.


Photovoltaic solar panels crown the roof.