The Porter School of Environmental Studies highlights sustainable building in Israel
By Donna Taylor
July 2, 2013
A new building at Tel Aviv University features a standalone EcoWall that aims to provide vertical garden space and research facilities for its faculty. The university's Porter School of Environmental Studies (PSES) hopes that its new green building design will not only join the small number of LEED certified buildings in the country, but will also highlight sustainable methodologies for future buildings in Israel.
Located on a hill overlooking Tel Aviv, the building was designed by Axelrod-Grobman Architects in collaboration with Geotectura Studio and Chen Architects. After extensive analysis of the site, the design team used data about the prevailing wind direction, sun exposure and acoustics to determine the most sustainable orientation of the building plan. As a result, the EcoWall will act as a sound barrier to city noise through its position and use of plants on the balconies. The balconies can also accommodate plug-in study pods that create extra rooms for the school.
The glass facade that links the EcoWall to the main building permits a flood of daylight into the public atrium space between the two structures. To counteract any greenhouse type warming from all this glass, the design features a passive ventilation scheme that draws hot air up and discharges it through chimneys incorporated into the building's skin.
The 3,700 sq m (39,826 sq ft) building will also use a cost-effective chilled beam cooling system, that works by circulating interior and outdoor air through mounted chilled water coils and then redistributing it back into the space to regulate the temperature.
The EcoWall and green roof of the building will become a sustainable architecture research lab, and both will play a central role in ongoing energy, water, soil, vegetation and materials studies at the university. Additional sustainable features include 50kw solar panels, biological pools and grey water harvesting that will prove vital in this drought-prone region. Environmental data gathered by the school will be displayed on the egg-shaped capsule meeting room that extrudes in both directions from the EcoWall.
Founded by Dame Shirley Porter, a former Lord Mayor of Westminster in London, the school is the only multidisciplinary graduate research and teaching institution of environmental studies in Israel. With only three other LEED-certified buildings in the country, PSES hopes to achieve LEED platinum status upon completion later this year.