RIT dedicates Sustainability Institute Hall
World-class building and ‘living lab’ houses B. Thomas Golisano Institute for Sustainability
A. Sue Weisler
Hundreds of visitors, including industry and political leaders, received a firsthand look at the new Sustainability Institute Hall during a dedication event Friday at the Golisano Institute for Sustainability (GIS), “a living lab” that represents RIT’s commitment to the environment.
Cutting-edge “green” technology has been incorporated into every inch of the 84,000-square-foot building, from the solar panels on the soaring canopy to the vertical wind turbines located near its entrance.
The building houses the GIS master’s degree and Ph.D. programs in sustainability and architecture along with specialized research labs, student work areas, classrooms and office suites. Its distinctive features include a fuel cell, microgrid, geothermal system, green roof and a green wall.
“This new facility will enable RIT, and the Greater Rochester region, to become a world-class hub for sustainability research and education,” says RIT President Bill Destler. “It represents a significant new chapter in RIT’s commitment to serve as a major economic driver for our region, a leader in innovation and cutting-edge technologies, and a key partner with the community, government and industry.”
Since its construction began in 2011, the GIS facility was designed and built to exceed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum standards of the U.S. Green Building Council—the highest standard that can be achieved. Specialized research areas include the Staples Sustainable Innovation Lab, Eco-IT test bed and a fuel cell test bed.
According to Nabil Nasr, assistant provost and director of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability, Sustainability Institute Hall is more than an impressive structure.
“This facility is going to turn out a new generation of engineers, architects, scientists and policymakers who will have the opportunity to conduct research and study at RIT like very few places in the world,” Nasr says. “It represents the next step in the university’s development as a leading innovator in sustainable development.”
Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy said the new building will play an important role in achieving Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s vision for a “greener” and more efficient New York.
“The Rochester Institute of Technology and the Golisano Institute for Sustainability are core strategic assets and partners in driving New York’s innovative green economy,” says Duffy. “Through investments made possible by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and personally as a proud RIT alumnus, I am glad to see the tremendous research and development being performed by the Institute, which will continue to flourish and allow New York to maintain an edge in an increasingly competitive global economy.”
Phillip Singerman, associate director for Innovation and Industry Services, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), U.S. Department of Commerce, noted the exceptional breadth of sustainability expertise at GIS.
“The Golisano Institute for Sustainability is a unique institution focusing on sustainable practices in manufacturing, transportation and building technology,” says Singerman. “NIST is one of the leading research organizations in the nation in these fields, so we are particularly proud to have played a part in making the Golisano Institute possible.”
In addition to remarks by several RIT, industry and political leaders who played key roles in making Sustainability Institute Hall a reality, the dedication event featured guided and self-guided tours of the building’s specialized research labs and test beds.
The Golisano Institute for Sustainability was established in 2007 with a $10 million gift from Paychex Inc. founder, philanthropist B. Thomas Golisano. RIT was awarded a $13.1 million grant by the NIST Construction Grant Program, and $10 million in funding from the state of New York that was used toward construction of the facility. GIS received an additional $5 million as part of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council’s funding award in December.
Partners and affiliates include Staples Inc., Caterpillar Inc., the Clinton Global Initiative, Eastman Kodak Co., General Motors Co., Xerox Corp. and Rochester Midland Corp., with program support from the Henry Luce Foundation. Go to www.rit.edu/gis for more information.
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