Northern Power Systems

Northern Power Systems
Site Description
Waitsfield Vermont
Project Description

Headquarters including offices and manufacturing facility
Energy - GWR Engineering

Energy - Efficiency Vermont
Structural - Engineering Ventures
Mechanical - Carlson Mechanical, Inc. Electrical - Lamberton Electrics, Inc.
General Contractor
DEW Corporation
Building Area
28,785 sq ft
Project Cost
Year Completed

Winner of theEfficiency Vermont 2004 “Innovation in Integrated Design“ competition

Located adjacent to the existing NPS campus, the new building site reclaims an old gravel pit. Working with the original NPS building to it's south, the arc of the new building encloses a green space between the two structures. An east access road connects the campuses while showcasing the new building’s dramatic arc form.

The building layout, centered precisely on the Solar Meridian, has each segment of the building turned 15 degrees to follow the arc line, creating extensive daylighting opportunity at each joint. The building curve fits tightly on the site, keeping manufacturing sequences organized, facilitating foot-traffic between buildings, and creating a perimeter realm for vehicular traffic.

The building envelope is exceedingly energy efficient. With the structure kept inboard of the building's skin, a non-combustible, high R-value system wraps the building, including structural insulated panels on the roof and continuous wall cavities filled with dense pack cellulose, which stop all infiltration. In a blower door test conducted by Efficiency Vermont, the building achieved a permeability of 0.16 air changes per hour.

The daylighting strategy includes triple glazed fiberglass, operable windows, with a center section having photovoltaics within the glazing. The use of vertical and horizontal insulated, translucent panel systems at the shed bends are dramatic and effective, balancing solar gain from the south with daylight from the north. NPS manufactures remote location power systems, which are tested in the Environmental Testing Lab (ETL) and on the support matrix integrated into the south elevation. This innovative system permits fine-tuning of shading strategies, installation of photovoltaics and solar hot water, and a highly visible way for the building to “learn” from ongoing company research. The mechanical system uses waste heat and electrical energy of the test operations throughout all seasons.

The budget of $106/sf is a completed construction budget (site & building) for a design based on comprehensive environmental considerations using LEED guidelines as a base review. While a low first cost expense was achieved, the design still sought to reduce the life cycle cost of the building, cut energy use and enhance durability. A payback analysis of building components allowed effective choices to be made early in the design stages. The choice of interior materials, paints and finishes minimizes the use of VOC’s and improves the Indoor Air Quality. This kind of analysis enables thoughtful design.

The program developed spatial needs for the different components of the business to be housed; the design engineers, the environmental testing lab (ETL), the sales group, and the management team have room to grow within the flexibility of the new building. The program spaces fit into a simple shed with the high side to the south and the low to the north, balancing sunlight from the south and daylighting from the north. The vertical clearance requirements in the ETL staggered floor levels throughout the section. There is a company culture of ad hoc meetings and spaces for these are provided, both inside and outside.

Northern Power Systems was a wonderful opportunity to do sustainable design for a sustainability-inspired, locally founded company. From recycling the gravel pit, to saving energy, this building makes its best effort to articulate in space the vision we heard expressed about the company. This design will make sustainability an active part of working here.
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