Cooper Union Green Building Design
Here are the sustainability courses I've taken to earn the Green Building Certificate from Cooper Union. 
Each has a review that complement the green and sustainable course descriptions below.
As time allows, I'll be adding a linked page with a few tidbits of what I learned.  Just a tidbit, yes.  While rarely was there a session that I didn't take a few pages of notes on, I"m not going to do justice the instructors by paraphrasing what they've spent years refining. 
1 - NYC Energy Code
A Intensive and Comprehensive 2 Day Course - Suffice it to say that every A/E and Real Estate Management Firm in the city should make this a MANDATORY course for advancement in their firms.
As published in Real Estate Weekly, we all know that New York is one of the most energy-efficient cities in the country, and the world, thanks to:
  • High population density,
  • Extensive public transportation providing 7 million trips per day - keeping over 3 million cars off the roads (NYC currently has 2 million autos registered in it, imagine DOUBLING the cars on the roads in NYC and you see what Mass Transit does),
  • The ability to forego air conditioning for a good part of the year - and for all the NY'rs reading this, yes it could be worse, go south! (US DoD design standards and analysis of building energy use cite COOLING as the greatest energy cost to buildings of all types, factor in the inefficencies of generating and transmitting electricity, and cooling is a real CARBON HOG compared to heating).   
The Bloomberg Administration, via the Department of Buildings (DOB) and other agencies, is pushing building owners and operators to become yet more energy efficent and embrace other green building stratagies using newer energy sources, more efficient HVAC, greener building materials, increasing insulation, decreasing glass walls, and more sustainable lighting (daylight, CFR, LED, etc.)
The New York City Energy Conservation Code applies to all new building and alteration applications filed on or after July 1, 2010. The updated NYCCECC, based on the 2010 ECCNYS, affects all applications filed on or after December 28, 2010.
2 - Solar Essentials Workshop:
Energy Design and Construction for Residential and Commercial Projects  
After this workshop you'll feel like you've done a project - Feasibility through operation. 
PV system design goal is to hit 240 Volt, as this minimizes wire and thus also equipment costs.
You'd think night time is the safest time to work on a PV system, no possibility of danger.  Not true.  High street lighting or even a full moon is sufficient to generate current, it might be low amperage, but at 240 volt, a little amperage can become dangerous.
This course examines the design and integration of both Solar Photovoltaic and Solar Thermal systems. Solar PV topics include both grid-tied and off-grid systems, safety, site assessment and site restraints, user demand, sizing and designing a system, codes, Building Integrated PV (BIPV), adapting a design to a specific site, installation, system review, inspection, commissioning, maintaining and troubleshooting a system. The course also covers overall system costs, NYSERDA, City, State and Federal incentives and tax credits, net metering, all system components including thin-film and crystalline panels, inverters, wiring, connections, mounting options, battery backup and chargers, and both local and internet data collection devices and monitoring systems.Solar Thermal topics include collection,storage and distribution for domestic hot water, space heating, commercial applications and pool heating. Flat plate panels and evacuated tube collectors will be compared, and system sizing and components will be discussed, including heat storage and heat exchange tanks. Three popular systems, the closed-loop, pressurized glycol antifreeze system, the single and double-pump drain-back system, and a drain-down, open loop active system will be analyzed and reviewed.
3 - Solar Energy Policy
In short, we need a national solar energy policy, along with a general energy policy.  We need to commit to a long term policy to provide a stable development enviornment for solar and other alternative energies.  We need to level the NIMBY playing field, where a non - polluting solar or wind farm has MORE problems getting approved than a coal burning power plant. 
However, since we don't have any of that, you'll learn the range of policies across the country, past present and future, the projects they apply to, and the types of projects that can and are being built.
The good news is it works, and while not cheap, it solves a range of problems beyond generation that are just not being accounted for economically.  Hence, every PV project essentially is providing 'free' public service.  It's good to know that too, some clients like to do good while doing well.
This course introduces the policies intended to allow the development of solar energy policy at national and state levels. Topics include federal, state, and local tax incentives; net metering; Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs,) and emerging policies such as community solar financing and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs. The course examines how broad policies like Renewable Portfolio Standards and a price on carbon would influence solar economics. Participants will also analyze after-tax cash flow and learn the payback expectations when assembling a behind-the-meter solar project. Students also learn about working with third-party developers and lenders with leases and power purchase agreements.
4 - Daylighting Design
This brought back those college days when the physics department, under pressure from the architectural dept relented and created a Physics 101 just for us, to teach us all about energy efficency, solar energy and had the last laugh while we juggled all the thermal emisstivities, absorbtion, reflectivity, the yearly ballet of sun angles and what it all meant to available solar insolation.  No programs back then, it was all charts and number crunching. 
While an introduction to the basic science is good, half the time was spent reviewing modern software and rules of thumbs that are so simple and reliable they are embedded in building codes themselves.
This two-day workshop uses a hands-on, visual approach to explain the basics of sidelighting. Topics include aperture design, glazing selection, and shading to control solar heat gain and glare. Participants learn to identify and optimize a building's "daylight zones" with particular attention given to buildings in an urban enviroment.
5 - Sustainable Design Principals:  An Engineering Perspective 
Where oddly, for an engineering course, I learned ALOT about the effect of Greening Technologies on people and cultures.  There's more than one marginallized, if not down right oppressed cultural group in the world who owe their existance to trash - creating a real dilema in reducing trash via "modern" recycling programs.  At the other extreme, a new breed of tycoons are snapping up infrastructure, from water supply to waste water disposal, energy generation to distribution, and creating virtual monopolies that make change difficult.
6 - Green Retrofit:  The Fundamentals of Gut Renovation
I learned most concrete in 20th century building isn't what it's cracked up to be (and now that we know that, how to do it right), and that Green Rehab isn't very green unless it's a Gut Rehab.  Dosen't mean don't try if you're working on less than a gut, but you'll find out the compromises you'll be making enviornmentally, and in quality of living so to speak when you do a more traditional "minor" rehab.  I know from experience that saving as much as possible, and trying to acheive superior energy efficency DOES mean programatic user sacrifice.  It is hard in an age where compromise is off the table, to get traction for "compromise" from a client shelling out big bucks.  It might be easier to get more money to do a gut rehab.
7 - The Well Tempered House
In the olden days, sustainability was based on studying traditional modes of building, living, community development as well as local micro-climate, in effect, the local morphologies that evolved to create a livable built environment. We were working to convince clients and governments that it was feasible to improve buildings environmental performance using our only effective tool, precedent.  
Net-Zero had virtually no precedent and we certainly lacked the modeling and simulation software to create Net-Zero buildings, much rather convince a skeptical market that it was even possible.
Times have changed.A large part of this course is devoted to environmental / building analysis and simulation software.It was FASCINATING to see and experience the RICH and DIVERSE palette of these design aids, and aids they are as these packages go far beyond mere calculations. 
Any professional who wants to be relevant, remain relevant needs to gain this exposure.An equally large part of the class was devoted to wedding the software to the design process AND production level CAD software, including full case studies illustrating when and how various programs were used to develop or validate the design.Make no mistake, this course is NOT for engineers seeking to create the perfect mathematical energy model.  These are necessary models of course, but their complexity and cost limits them to the very end of projects, to ensure the design has met code and it’s energy, carbon, and other goals.
Ecological design is an integrative, responsible discipline for minimizing environmentally destructive impacts by active exchange with the environment. This course will teach ecological design and biomimicry principles, tools, and methodologies to move beyond mainstream sustainable design. The course will identify characteristics of living organisms in which various systems coexist in balanced symbiotic relationships and explain how these characteristics can be translated to architectural design principles. The sessions will focus on a small scale residential project to illustrate and teach the ecological design approach. A review of next-generation frameworks and performance concepts, such as the Living Building Challenge, Passive House, Net-Zero Energy, Net Zero Carbon and Architecture 2030 will be integrated with references to LEED for Homes. Participants will be introduced to design software tools such as Vasari, Ecotect, Daysim and Rhino/Grasshopper, and learn about when and how to apply these tools and how they relate to the overall Building Information Modeling environment.
8 - The Ecological City: Sustainability and Resilience
Perhaps this should be called the “The Ecological City:  The Sociology of Sustainability and Resilience”.   Much of the efforts in developing resilient communities seems to go far beyond the “plumbing”.  Creating a resilient community relies on understanding how our differing cultures influence our built environments, not just how our built environment interacts with the natural environment.   
There is nothing prescriptive about this course.  Instead you'll find out why your design brief is potentially unlimited.  This is a thought provoking course that you might only use the barest thread of in your day to day work, or you might find it leads you to a new career.
This course explores the development of an integrated, multi-disciplinary urban design for creating resilient communities that can adapt and thrive in the changing global conditions, help meet carbon-reduction goals, and mitigate the impact of climate change. This approach aims to sustain urban populations in more compact settings by providing amenities that people need and want. Participants explore urban design approaches, methods, and tools that strengthen resilience to climate change through a systemic, interconnected public realm and green infrastructure achieving reduced energy loads, cleaner air, and enhanced civic life. The course reviews prototype case studies and methodologies in both local and international contexts. Synergies between green and gray infrastructure will be a recurring theme. While this course is not specifically a LEED exam preparation course, the material covered will be of great use to anyone aiming for the LEED qualification in Neighborhood Development.
9 & 10 - LEED (Leadership in Energy and Enviornmental Design: immediate fail if you don't get that on the test).
LEED is definitively the single most effective initiative in raising users, inhabitants, owners, and regulators sustainable and green building conciousness and I'm not just another fan-boy.  I laughed when they gave credit for a bike rack (click the link below to hear why).  Yet, LEED standards are changing, highlighting energy efficency, the low hanging fruit in sustainable and green design, and a proxy for carbon and all other enviornmental degregation. 
I’ve taken these courses before, and this series were, for want of words, less cynical than others.  In another course the instructor told us to just endlessly copy the credits sure to be asked on the exam over and over again, and as soon as we sit for the exam, to write them out once more, THEN answer the exam questions with that “legal” crib sheet at our disposal.
While like any review course for a strictly prescriptive “code”, this involved a great deal of reading from the manuals, the instructor strove to provide the theory behind the LEED system and organization. 
Of course, the latest "cynical trick" in LEED credtialling came up, buying the “experience” to become certified.  How else in the horrendously depressed industry where getting a job has to trump insisting on LEED experience as part of your job. 
We also got a glimpse into the possible future of LEED, maybe Life Cycle Costing (and you thought balancing your check book was hard), maybe re-credentialing for those who memorized LEED credit systems that have become hopelessly out of date, or even maybe social responsibility (credits for manufacturers and suppliers who respect their workers), all have come up for discussion in the LEED community.
LEED Green Associate
The Green Associate examination prep course covers fundamental knowledge of the latest LEED rating systems and sustainable building practices. A systems approach and other concepts for sustainable design are discussed as a basis for the LEED rating system. Other topics include Sustainable Sites, Water efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, Innovation in Design and Regionalism. Students will learn current U.S. Green Building Council and Green Building Certification Institute policies for certification and accreditation. The course also emphasizes exam preparation including learning aids and practice tests.
LEED AP for Building Design and Construction
This is an advanced level course for the LEED Specialty in Green Building Design and Construction (BD+C). The LEED BD+C rating system is intended for LEED certification of new buildings. Students interested in Certification as a LEED Accredited Professional (AP) with specialty in BD+C must pass the LEED BD+C Exam. The course provides an overview of topics in the LEED BD+C rating system including: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, Innovation in Design and Regionalism. Emphasis is placed on aspects of the LEED BD+C rating system likely to be included on the exam. Latest policies on professional and building certification from US Green Building Council (USGBC) and Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) are also discussed. Discussion of books, references and sample exams necessary for BD+C exam preparation is also included in the course.


Material for some of the course commentary, reviews, and descriptions were exerpted from the following sources:
Real Estate Weekly on Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Cooper Union's Registration Website
Email registration confirmations
Material with citations for energy and carbon use were exerpted from the following sources:
CEO's for Cities - "New York City's Green Dividend"

Ground-Source Heat Pumps at Department of Defense Facilities - Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense

(Installations and Environment)

Cooper Union Green Building Design

Certificate Program


Course Descriptions and Reviews


1 - NYC Energy Code - 2 Days Intensive and Comprehensive

(Click Here)

2 - Solar Energy Design and Construction for Residential and Commercial Projects

(Click Here)

3 - Solar Energy Policy

(Click Here)

4 - Daylighting Design

(Click Here)


5 - Sustainable Design Principles:

An Engineering Perspective

(Click Here)

6 - Green Retrofit:

The Fundamentals of Gut Renovation

(Click Here)


Country House 

Eco - Architecture Test Bed

Location: NYS
Catskill Mountains
Upstate New York

Micro Climate: Extreme

-7000 Heating DD
-limited sun 
-deep in narrow valley.


Energy Conservation
Low Temperature Solar Thermal


Energy Update:

30% Reduction

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General Portfolio


Slide Shows


Evolution DD-CD

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Sketches - Details

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Project List

1 - NYC Townhouse 

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2 - Alumni Facility

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3 - PA Offices

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4 - NYC SCA Elementrary

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5 - NYC SCA High School

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6 - Scenic Overlook

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