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North Hempstead "Yes We Can" Community Center, Westbury, N.Y.

It took almost 10 years of planning to create the North Hempstead "Yes We Can" Community Center. Building responsibly was important to town officials and residents. They, therefore, incorporated sustainable practices according to the LEED Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. An integral product featured on a south-facing wall is 0.032-inch aluminum InSpire transpired solar collector panels in Classic Bronze from ATAS International Inc. The panels, installed by Racanelli Construction Co., use solar energy from the sun to keep the building warm. The sun's rays hit the metal wall panels, creating solar-heated air. Ventilation fans at the top of the wall draw the air through small perforations in the panels and into a wall cavity behind the collector panels. The air is then passed into conventional ductwork of the building's ventilation system.

Architectural firm The RBA Group Inc. discovered that this simple system can have significant savings. InSpire reduces annual energy consumption by 1 to 2 therms per square foot of collector. It lowers annual heating costs by $1.50 to $5.50 per square foot of collector, depending on the fuel replaced. This results in typical paybacks of three to eight years. For its work, The RBA Group received a Special Award for Sustainable Design in a Commercial Setting from the American Institute of Architects Long Island Chapter. A photovoltaic roof system, daylighting, recycled water for toilets and urinals, rainwater collection, geothermal heating and cooling, native plants and high-efficiency lighting systems all add to the LEED rating.

"The benefits of InSpire are it preheats outside air before entering a building, insulates buildings' inner walls by shielding them from direct sunlight during the summer and may also destratify hot air treated at the ceilings," says Jim Bush, vice president of sales for ATAS. "This results in keeping spaces more comfortable while lowering energy consumption and decreasing utility bills."

In addition to having a sustainable center, residents also now have some options to pass the time, including broadcast TV and sound recording studios, a performing arts rehearsal area, two basketball courts, passive recreation, game rooms, computer training rooms, reading room, senior meeting room, youth lounge, fitness center, and dance and aerobic studio. The center also houses the town emergency management facilities, 311 call center, conference rooms and a multipurpose gathering space.

ATAS International, www.atas.com