Ithaca School District First in NYS to Have Two Buildings Verified as Exceptional in Energy-Efficiency

NYSERDA Names Lehman Alternative Community School and Kulp Auditorium High-Performance School Buildings for Their Energy-Efficiency Achievements

June 24, 2013

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) today announced that the Lehman Alternative Community School and Kulp Auditorium have received the New York Collaborative of High Performance Schools (NY-CHPS) distinction for high level energy-efficiency achievement. With these designations, the Ithaca City School District becomes the first district in the State with two NY-CHPS Verified School buildings.

Both Lehman Alternative Community School and Kulp Auditorium were recognized for addition and renovation projects that increased energy efficiency well above what is required by the New York State energy code. Lehman was recognized for being 30 percent more energy efficient and Kulp for being 36 percent more efficient than if they had been “built to code.”

NY-CHPS recognizes schools with healthy, safe, high-quality learning environments that are less costly to operate than schools built to code and that conserve valuable resources while being environmentally friendly. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has tailored NY-CHPS for New York code requirements and to follow NYSED priorities.

NYSERDA administers the NY-CHPS Verification Program and provides no-cost, third-party verification of compliance with NY-CHPS requirements as well as support and training programs for districts, professional design teams and contractors. NYSERDA’s New Construction Program (NCP) currently offers bonus incentives for achieving NY-CHPS verification.

“The NY-CHPS Verification Program is an effective energy-efficiency gauge for schools looking to assess energy use and increase sustainability,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO of NYSERDA. “NYSERDA congratulates the Ithaca School District for becoming the first district in the State with two NY-CHPS Verified School buildings and leading the way in support of Governor Cuomo’s call for increased energy efficiency across New York State.”

New York State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said, “When schools districts improve energy efficiency, they teach valuable lessons about sustainability and allow greater resources to be devoted to the classroom. The Ithaca district has taken a smart approach in making their facilities energy efficient and environmentally friendly. The Education Department encourages districts to build or renovate schools to meet SED's NY-CHPS criteria.”

Lehman Alternative Community School received special commendation from the review team for areas that included: the use of materials with low life-cycle costs, which saves the district operating dollars over the life of the materials in cleaning and maintenance; and the use of recycled, salvaged or rapidly renewable materials that have a reduced environmental impact.

“Our district is working hard not merely to meet standards, but to set them." said Ithaca School District Superintendent Dr. Luvelle Brown. “The technologies at work in LACS and Kulp are wonderful examples of our progress. I am proud to be part of a forward-thinking community that recognizes the importance of innovating with the times.”

Areas of Kulp Auditorium that received special commendation included: an innovative strategy for energy-saving and sustainability by tying into Cornell Lake Source Cooling Plant; and the use of daylighting strategies (e.g., light tubes used to distribute natural light, dimming controls and shades) in music classrooms to provide natural light. The daylighting improvements make artificial lighting unnecessary during 50 to 60 percent of the school day.

NY-CHPS guidelines provide a framework for school districts and their design teams as they plan, build and maintain energy-efficient, sustainable school buildings. New York schools may be built or renovated to meet NY-CHPS criteria. The NY-CHPS Verification Program, a no-cost, third-party verification program, offers school districts the opportunity to ensure that a project meets all performance standards approved by the school district and community. High performance schools help to ensure healthy, safe and enhanced learning environments and to minimize the environmental impact of a building’s footprint and use.


NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect our environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York since 1975.