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Strategic Thinking and Engineering Smarts Are Helping To Reduce the Campus Carbon Footprint at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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Leaders at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are pairing engineering smarts with old-fashioned common sense to trim energy costs and reduce the carbon footprint of the university’s historic Troy campus.

From the innovative design of new buildings to the retro-commissioning of century-old Institute landmarks, Rensselaer has embraced sustainability as a way of life and is dedicated to ensuring the ol’ red and white campus is forever green.

“The physical transformation of Rensselaer over the past decade is striking and undeniable,” said Claude Rounds, vice president for administration at Rensselaer. “But even with the addition of all of these new facilities, we have reduced our overall energy and water consumption per square-foot. In terms of energy efficiency and sustainability, Rensselaer is leaner and greener than ever before.”

Using the sun to make the ice



East Campus Athletic Village
The newest addition to the Troy campus is the East Campus Athletic Village (ECAV). The most extensive athletic construction project in Rensselaer history, ECAV is also among the most energy-efficient facilities of its kind. In addition to optimized environmental conditioning systems and a strong focus on water efficiency for both waste water and irrigation-free landscaping, ECAV has a 50-kilowatt photovoltaic array installed on the roof. These solar panels convert sunlight — an abundant, renewable energy source — into electricity that helps to support the refrigeration system that makes the ice for the nearby Houston Field House hockey rink.

The innovative design for the ECAV stadium employs a solar shading screen to control glare and heat from the western sun exposure. ECAV is expected to achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building rating of silver or gold.

Similarly, the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media & Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) has also achieved LEED certification. Rounds said the facility outperforms many of the LEED requirements and standards. Some of the sustainable features built into EMPAC include energy-efficient lighting, efficient water usage, and an air handling system that uses heat recovery coils and variable speed drives. At the end of the day, energy use at EMPAC is more than 20 percent below the average baseline energy use of similar-sized buildings.

The Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS), Rounds said, is a triumph of sustainable engineering. The building’s large interior atrium — intentionally designed with long open walkways and bridges to feel like a large seafaring ship and literally break down the walls separating academic disciplines — is naturally conditioned, without the need for cooling or heating. Environmental systems are used on the very hottest and coldest days of the year, Rounds said, but 95 percent of the time, Rensselaer is expending literally no energy to heat or cool the CBIS atrium.

“Constructing a More Sustainable Campus” Page 1 | 2 >
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green@rensselaer is a new series of articles, blog entries, podcasts, and videos highlighting issues and topics related to sustainability, energy, and the environment. The series will examine the research, student initiatives, administrative efforts, and individuals at Rensselaer who are striving in different ways toward the shared goal of reducing society’s impact on the environment.
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