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BS/MEng Mechanical Engineering
Clifton Park NY

Sustainability Hall Tour

Alissa Anderson on Tuesday, 26 March 2013. Posted in Labs

Last week I had the opportunity to tour the new Golisano Institute for Sustainability  (GIS) facility with WE@RIT. Sustainability Hall is located on the academic side of campus, adjacent to Engineering Technology Hall (home of the College of Applied Science and Technology) and the Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies. GIS is to be home to courses supporting the PH.D. program in Sustainability and Master’s programs in Sustainable Systems and Architecture < and for good reason! This building is a power house of generating and storing its own clean energy, and is expected to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards of the U.S. Green Building Council. Check out my personal favorite tour highlights: 


  1. Below the building, a geothermal system of 150-foot deep wells and circulating fluid keep the building at a 55 degree base temperature. The wells extend the length of the building, and are also located below the surrounding concrete and steps to keep ice and snow from building up during the Rochester winter. 
  2. Vertical-axis windmills generate up to 1 kW or energy each. 
  3. The building is covered with a “green roof” - a location for solar panel research, rainwater collection, and a natural butterfly habitat designed with help from the Seneca Park Zoo (potentially taking this location to the top of the most romantic campus spots list). 
  4. Rain water is collected in the basement of Sustainability Hall and is used in the flush fixtures thought the building. 
  5. Staples Corporation has sponsored the “Staples Sustainable Innovations Lab” - a lab dedicated to research to improve the environmental impact of their products: from raw material harvesting, to retail, recycling, and product development. 
  6. “Decision Theater” allows classes to project projects in 3D for a hands-on review process. 
  7. The Eco Design Lab supports a course titles “Consumer Product Design” - intended to integrate engineering and design teams to experiment with design strategies that utilize green materials, developing products with a recyclable end of life in mind, and other forms of sustainable product design. 
  8. The micro grid system allows the building to harvest and store energy from throughout the building (turbines, fuel cells, solar sells, etc.). The energy is used to power outlets and also supports the car charging stations outside the building. 
  9. One of the labs we toured was focused on battery development and recycling. One selection of the lab is able to simulate a landfill so that students and researchers can explore what chemicals are leeched during the breakdown process. 
  10. This smart building is equipped with 12 hundred sensors that gather information and optimize its own use. 


Sustainability Hall is truly impressive - I am jealous of the students who get to explore the building when it officially opens! 

[Photo from the the GIS homepage]