Pataki joins SU to collaborate on new building
New York state Gov. George E. Pataki has teamed up with Syracuse University to create the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems.
State and university officials feel the project will revolutionize the Syracuse area both economically and environmentally, while also providing SU students with a state-of-the-art research facility that will be among the best in its field.
With an expected price tag that government administrators estimate to be about $200 million, the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems is a mouthful in more ways than one.
The project was designed to create an environmentally friendly research complex at the corner of East Washington and Almond streets in downtown Syracuse and will be subsidized almost exclusively by corporate and government funds. The complex will also be a boom to both the local economy and academia, according to a press release issued by Pataki’s office.
‘We’ve once again taken the lead in pulling together a consortium of institutions and industry in the pursuit of environmental sustainability,’ said Chancellor Nancy Cantor. ‘It’s very important for the university to be a leader in the fields of engineering and energy science.’
Ben Ware, vice president of research and computing at SU and a supervisor of the university’s role in the CoE project, said construction plans had been in the works for about five years.
Edward Bogucz, the executive director of the CoE and associate professor, was out of his office and unavailable for comment.
‘In 2002, the governor designated Syracuse as a ‘Center of Excellence,’ a prerequisite for receiving state funds,’ Ware said.
He also said there are several ‘Centers of Excellence’ throughout the state that are in line for other developmental projects.
‘(The CoE) was one of the first projects the university became involved with that dealt with ‘green technology,” Ware said.
The construction of an ecologically aware Syracuse CoE would help make ‘Central New York a major international powerhouse in the development of clean and renewable energy sources,’ Pataki’s press release stated.
‘While many design elements have not yet been 100 percent finalized, the schematic phase is already well underway,’ said Greg Dembs, a CoE project architect for Ashley McGraw Architects, a firm located in downtown Syracuse.
The McGraw firm was recently chosen to be the executive architect for the Syracuse CoE in conjunction with Toshiko Mori, a New York City-based architectural firm that will handle specific design aspects of the project.
Dembs said there is an impressive array of cutting-edge technology now available that will make the Syracuse CoE unique.
‘There are plans for a 250-foot tower atop the building that will sample air quality at different levels, what we call the urban canopy,’ Dembs said.
Measuring the quality of air in the layer above the trees but below the average height of a city’s buildings is a necessary component of environmental research, he said.
‘The lower portion will have a green roof for vegetation that will help tremendously as far as insulation goes,’ Dembs said. ‘There will be photovoltaic cells atop the rest of the roof that will generate electricity, and we’re also looking at the possibility of growing biofuels, along with a proposal for a wind turbine.’
In addition, Dembs described the development of a willow tree program whereby fast-growing willow trees are harvested, turned into wood chips and burned via gasifiers to heat the building.
Additionally, Dembs said the firm discussed the idea of creating a ‘snow collection pit’ on a side of the building perpetually shielded from the sun. The shade would allow an accumulation of winter snow to last far into the summer. The melting buildup would provide the source of chilled water necessary to power an air conditioning system without having to use environmentally harmful coolants or refrigerants.
The advent of such previously impractical technologies has led Ware and other administrators and architects to lobby the U.S. Green Building Council to give the Syracuse CoE the highest platinum rating on its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System scale.
Ware said work at the site has already begun with wind monitors doing preliminary testing before active construction begins in the spring. He said he expects the project to be completed in 18 months.
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