Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

October 20, 2014 Q&A

Power grid operator strikes LEED Gold

Photo | Contributed ISO New England spent $39 million building a new backup control center in Windsor, shown above, that has received LEED Gold certification.

Q&A talks about one of the latest Connecticut buildings to become LEED certified with Robert Ludlow, the chief financial and compliance officer for ISO New England, the region's independent power system operator that recently built a $39 million backup control center (BCC) in Windsor.

Q: Why did ISO-NE seek LEED Gold for its new Windsor back-up facility?

A: From the very beginning of the design process, it was ISO New England's intention to construct a building that balanced environmental responsibility with economic concerns. With new construction, ISO New England had the opportunity to design a state-of-the-art building from the ground up to meet all of the unique needs of a grid operator, and to take advantage of advances in technology that maximize energy efficiency and minimize the impact on the environment. In working with the architect and contractor, ISO used the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system as a guiding principle. So building a facility that could earn LEED certification was an important priority.

Q: What extra features were added to the facility to help it achieve the LEED Gold status?

A: Designing the BCC to meet the stringent sustainability criteria for LEED certification was a challenge. This is due to the high energy demands of the data center and IT infrastructure necessary to support continuous operation of all power grid, markets, and settlements functions that would be shifted to the BCC in the event of an emergency at the ISO's main campus. To help offset some of the demand, ISO incorporated an 84-kilowatt rooftop solar photovoltaic system, which will generate an estimated 115,550 kilowatt-hours per year — roughly 6.5 percent of the BCC's annual estimated electricity usage.

The design also incorporated highly-efficient heating, cooling, and ventilation systems, and lighting and advanced sensors throughout the building to help regulate the use of these systems. For example, CO2 sensors regulate ventilation and occupancy sensors regulate lighting, reducing energy consumption.

Other sustainable design and construction measures included: using regional and recycled materials where possible; using low-VOC (volatile organic compound) emitting materials; minimizing light pollution from the facility; locating the facility within walking distance of public transportation; and preferred parking for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles.

Q: Who was your architect and contractor?

A: Spagnolo Gisness & Associates Inc., (Boston), was the lead architect; Barr & Barr Inc., (office in New Haven) was the construction team.

Q: Do other ISO facilities have any LEED certification?

A: Yes. At ISO New England's main campus in Holyoke, Mass. ISO remodeled its existing facility and constructed an adjoining building in 2006 and 2007. The facility was the first commercial corporate headquarters in New England to be awarded LEED Gold certification for new construction from the U.S. Green Building Council. The Holyoke facility is home to the ISO's master control room, where system operators dispatch more than 350 power plants to send electricity over 8,500 miles of high-voltage transmission lines to keep the lights on for New England's 14 million residents.

Q: Was the process of building a LEED Gold building difficult? How about getting the actual certification?

A: The requirements for achieving LEED certification are straightforward, and because ISO had the goal of earning that certification from the very beginning, as well as guidance from AHA Consulting Engineers, the process for building a LEED Gold facility and obtaining the certification was fairly smooth. We also had experience from 2007 when we built our facility in Holyoke, Mass.

Q: How will the Windsor facility be used?

A: In its role as the power grid operator for New England, ISO is required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and North American Electric Reliability Corp. to have a backup control center that can be staffed and running in less than two hours and remain operational for a prolonged period if necessary. The new facility in Windsor includes a backup control room, a data center, and can accommodate the staff needed to maintain ISO's critical functions.

The backup control room also is used as a simulator for enhanced training of ISO New England control room operators. This new backup facility significantly enhances ISO's ability to continue uninterrupted operation of the New England power grid in the event of an emergency at the main control center in Holyoke. 

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


Order a PDF