October 24, 2011

Cornell Reveals Designs for NYC Tech Campus

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If New York City selects Cornell’s bid to build an applied sciences campus on Roosevelt Island, Cornell will build the largest building in the northeastern United States that creates as much energy as it uses, the University announced Monday.

Preliminary designs disclosed by the University reveal that the campus will generate renewable energy through a solar panel array and geothermal well system. In addition, the buildings on campus will be oriented to true south to maximize the amount of solar energy captured. ­­­

Bids from universities competing for the tech campus project are due Friday. Cornell is competing against more than 20 other universities. Cornell’s proposed campus would be built on Roosevelt Island on land provided by the city. Additionally, the city is offering $100 million to the winner to carry out infrastructure improvements. The tech campus is estimated to cost as much as $2 billion over 30 years, according to Provost Kent Fuchs.

Kyu-Jung Whang, vice president of Facilities Services, praised the University’s proposal to construct “net-zero” buildings — buildings that generate as much energy than they use.

“It is … especially exciting for us to be able to build a truly sustainable campus from the ground up, where it’s not a case of us inheriting a group of buildings that were built many years ago and that we have to retrofit,” Whang said. “To do the right thing with all the knowledge we’ve learned over the years is truly exciting.”

About four acres of solar paneling will be installed on the buildings’ rooftops, which will ultimately generate up to 1.8 megawatts of power, Whang said.

“Forget the cliché ‘game-changer;’ this New York City campus is more than that. It is the ideal plan for creating an educational environment to train future engineers and designers in the science of sustainability for decades to come,” Dean of Architecture, Art and Planning Kent Kleinman said in a University press release. “And it will make New York City home to one of the nation’s premier green buildings.”

The press release states that the design of the core building will qualify for platinum level LEED certification.

The proposal also includes an extensive deep-earth well field ― 400 wells spanning four acres ― as part of a geothermal heat pump system that will heat and cool buildings on campus.

“The initial phase of the proposed campus will require only a quarter of the electricity from the grid, emit half of the greenhouse gas, and require less than half the fossil fuel to power, heat and cool than a comparable new, conventional campus that meets current energy code,” the press release states.

Whang said that the campus will feature 500,000 square feet of natural green space for plant nurseries and rain gardens that will be open to the public.

The University’s proposed design was created by the architecture and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, which previously worked on projects including the Freedom Tower in New York City. If its proposal is accepted, the University will most likely ask the firm to design the ultimate project.

Stanford University has also taken environmentally-friendly designs into account for its campus proposal. Although their plans are not definite, Stanford officials said they will likely use solar panels and geothermal power, The New York Times reported Monday. Stanford officials are also considering an artificial marsh that would filter and recycle water from storm runoff, sinks and possibly toilets.

Original Author: Dennis Liu