Princeton Engineers Craft Green Design for Historic Factory in Hamilton, New Jersey

A group of Princeton engineering students are working with a Trenton-based non-profit on ways to incorporate green building techniques into its new headquarters in nearby Hamilton, New Jersey that dates from 1885.

Isles, Inc. is a Trenton-based non-profit organization that develops green homes and businesses, provides training for green collar jobs, and administers various environmental clean up projects across the state of New Jersey. Isles was founded by Princeton students back in 1981 and has since expanded to over 60 employees across 5 locations in the Garden State. A current group of Princeton civil and environmental engineering students – in cooperation with their professor, Robert Harris, head of New Jersey-based green consultants Environ, Inc. – are providing recommendations to Isles and their architects, Croxton Collaborative, on ways the company can green its future headquarters, an abandoned factory in Hamilton, New Jersey, that dates from 1895. The factory was partially donated to Isles, which hopes to ultimately accomodate up to 300 employees in the new space, as well as incorporate artist studios and a mix of market-rate and affordable residential units into the development. The image here presents the property in its current condition.

In connection with a year-long course called Engineering Projects in Community Service, the students recently presented a set of proposed green design features for the factory to Isles and Croxton using Autodesk’s web-based Green Building Studio, which allowed them to create a model of the building’s energy and water consumption and review the building’s projected response to various systems. Recommendations for the factory retrofit included a graywater system, natural daylighting and occupancy sensors, solar panels (at an estimated cost of $500,000.00, which would translate into a 17-year payback period), and a geothermal heating and cooling system. No details on if – and when – the project will proceed, and to what extent Croxton and Isles will incorporate the students’ work into the final design program, but Mr. Harris’s course sounds fascinating and, as a former civil engineering student, I certainly wish we had a similar green design project during my undergraduate days as well.

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