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Atypical Elementary School


New Owego Elementary School building serves as a community symbol

Guardian Glass brings high performance and energy efficiency to new Owego Elementary School in Owego, N.Y.Highland Associates, New York City, create a state-of-the-art school to replace a structure destroyed by a tropical storm.



One day into the 2011-2012 school year, Tropical Storm Lee changed the community of Owego, N.Y., forever. The district had four of its buildings completely destroyed by the 2011 flood and sustained significant damage to many others. One of the buildings destroyed was the original Owego Elementary. Within days of the initial flooding, Highland Associates Architects was on-site working hand-in-hand with the District, FEMA, New York State Education Department and the State of New York to assess the damage.



Highland committed to creating an atypical elementary school. "We wanted the building to be an integrated tool for their curriculum, and foster different types of learning; classroom learning, spontaneous interaction, small group collaboration, large group instruction, outdoor learning, etc.," explains David Degnon, senior associate, Highland Associates. "It was important for us to ensure the school embody the healing of a community (devastated by a natural disaster), and serve as a symbol of the determination and perseverance of the Owego community."

Additionally, Highland Associates needed to design a building with a high-performing envelope to meet LEED requirements, including the enhanced acoustical performance credit. While it examined high-performance, low-E glazing options, the building team knew that incorporating laminated glass would greatly reduce the amount of outside noise.


Guardian Glass brings high performance and energy efficiency to new Owego Elementary School in Owego, N.Y.

SunGuard SNX 62/27 coated glass was selected because of its balance of performance and light transmittance. "To increase the thermal performance, we initially looked at a triple-pane system," he says. "Because of the added complexity of the laminated glass, the curtain wall system would have become a custom system. This would have dramatically increased the cost of the façade. The solution was to use argon in place of air for the airspace and to couple that with SunGuard IS 20 coated glass. By doing this we were able to achieve triple-pane performance in a laminated, double-pane system."

The addition of the interior surface coating-SunGuard IS 20 glass-helps bring the U-value performance of double-glaze units closer to that of triple-glaze, improving performance in buildings where maximum heat flow resistance is desired while still allowing abundant natural light. This combination of SunGuard products, fabricated by independent Guardian Select fabricator J.E. Berkowitz, Pedricktown, N.J., and installed by Forno Enterprises Inc., Trout Creek, N.Y., has a 60 percent visible light transmission and a low 0.26 solar heat gain coefficient, for an impressive light-to-solar gain ratio of 2.34. The project utilized Monett, Mo.-based EFCO Corp.'s System 5600 curtain wall. The school has applied for LEED Silver certification.

Owego Elementary School, Owego, N.Y.
Highland Associates, New York City,
Fabricator: J.E. Berkowitz, Pedricktown, N.J.,
Glazier: Forno Enterprises, Trout Creek, N.Y.,
Aluminum system supplier: EFCO Corp., Monett, Mo.,
Glass manufacturer: Guardian Glass, Auburn Hills, Mich.,
Glass products: Triple-silver Guardian SunGuard SNX 62/27 and SunGuard IS 20 coated glass products
Photos: Guy Cali Associates Inc.


Brian Schulz is the product manager for Guardian Glass North America. He is a licensed architect with over 20 years of experience in the building design and construction industry. The Guardian SunGuard coated glass product line for commercial applications offers excellent solar control and a wide variety of colors and performance levels. SunGuard coated glass products provide innovative, leading solutions for appearance, economics and energy efficiency, and are available through an international network of independent Guardian Select fabricators. For more information, visit