Best Green Project: RIT Golisano Institute for Sustainability

A late influx of grant money for additional space coupled with evolving client needs created a dynamic design and construction environment for the Rochester Institute of Technology's (RIT) $38-million Golisano Institute for Sustainability. Built under a design-build contract, the 84,000-sq-ft institute is RIT's signature building for the development of sustainable technologies in the manufacturing, transportation and energy industries. It also provides a showcase for green construction and design.

The four-story structure includes laboratories, support laboratories, a computer data center and collaboration and computing space.

The finished vision for the building evolved during construction. To keep up, stakeholders, including end-users, attended weekly team meetings to discuss requests.

One surprise—which came after completion of schematic design—was the infusion of a $13.1-million National Institute of Standards and Testing grant that supported a further 75% expansion of the project. Even so, the new design for the expanded project continued to push against the new budget as well as the schedule.

With constant weighing of energy performance against costs, builders kept the budget in check by value engineering the entire project, according to the submitter's entry form. For instance, the team opted to use lower-grade stainless steel for a fuel cell laboratory that still met equipment requirements, and it used aluminum—instead of copper—feeders for electric.

Another late design change involved the addition of a 400-kilowatt combined heat and power system that serves as the building's primary energy source. Power is also supplied by a smart microgrid, which stores energy produced from various sources including solar panels and wind mills to a battery bank. The energy bank powers the building's lights, electrical outlets and charging stations for electric vehicles.

The team remained flexible with the ever-changing scope and reacted quickly to new needs and requirements. The completed project is registered LEED Platinum.

RIT Golisano Institute for Sustainability, Rochester, N.Y.

Key Players

Owner Rochester Institute of Technology

General Contractor LeChase Construction Services LLC

Lead Designer/Structural Engineer SWBR Architects & Engineers PC

Civil Engineer Stantec

MEP Engineer M/E Engineering

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