Sustainability research facility funded by $13.1 million grant

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RIT has announced the acquisition of a $13.1 million grant to build a home for the Golisano Institute for Sustainability. Read about plans for the ‘green’ facility which include classrooms, research bays and state-of-the-art laboratories, and the cutting-edge research on the horizon.

Sustainability is defined as the development of systems and operations in all facets of society that have as little impact as possible on the world’s resources and environment while promoting better quality of life internationally.

RIT is committed to enhancing sustainable development through its research and education programming and its campus operations and design. Those efforts will be expanding due to a $13.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, which was announced Sept. 29. The funding will assist in construction of a green facility that will house the university’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability. 

The building will house classrooms, 
research bays and state-of-the-art laboratories, and serve as a center for sustainability research, technology transfer, education, green construction and design. 

“RIT is committed to enhancing sustainable development through innovative research and education initiatives as well as increased implementation of sustainable processes throughout campus,” notes RIT President Bill Destler. “We are extremely honored to have been chosen for this award, which will assist us in promoting both of these goals and will serve as a model for other universities across the country.”

The Golisano Institute was formed in 2007 with a $10 million gift from Paychex founder and chairman B. Thomas Golisano. The institute currently houses one of the world’s first Ph.D. programs in sustainable production and is developing master’s degrees in sustainable systems and sustainable architecture. 

“This tremendous support from the National Institute of Standards and Technology will assist us in developing new sustainable technologies and processes while also disseminating knowledge, education and training in the field,” says Nabil Nasr, 
assistant provost and director of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability.

The grant is a component of the NIST Construction Grant Program and RIT was selected after an extensive competitive search; only five projects were selected 
out of 124 proposals received. The 75,000 square-foot facility has also received 
$10 million in funding from the state 
of New York.

“Strengthening research and development in the United States is critical to our ability to create jobs and remain competitive,” adds U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. “These construction grants will help the U.S. produce world-leading research in science and technology that will advance our economic growth and international competitiveness.”

New York’s U.S. Senate delegation and Rochester’s congressional delegation have also secured substantial funding for the Institute’s applied research and technology transfer programs in life cycle engineering, fuel cell technology and other focus areas. In addition, the Golisano Institute has received significant corporate and foundation investments toward its education and research programming as well as its laboratory facilities, including $2 million from Xerox and $1 million from Eastman Kodak. 

RIT expects to break ground in spring 2011 with the facility opening in the fall of 2012. The new building will be designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council, which sets goals for waste and energy minimization and reuse in building construction and operation. The campus already features one LEED Platinum and one LEED Gold facility. 

The Golisano Institute for Sustainability builds on over two decades of research and education programming in environmentally benign design, sustainable production and recycling and remanufacturing process improvement conducted at RIT.

“It is imperative that we accelerate strategies to promote a sustainable society and ensure future generations the opportunity to address their own needs,” explains Golisano, who also serves on the RIT Board of Trustees. “For that reason, it is my desire for the Golisano Institute for Sustainability to produce the first generation of professionals with the vision and know-how to deliver on the promise of sustainability, and I am very proud to be associated with this exciting endeavor.”