Last week, Cornell University released the specs for its proposed New York City Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island, which will feature as its centerpiece a 150,000-square-foot net-zero energy building that—if built today—would the be largest net-zero energy building in the eastern United States. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and oriented toward the arc of the sun, the proposed campus will capture a large, daily dose of solar power and will use the Earth's generous internal, thermal power as an additional energy source.
The primary educational building, which will serve as a home for the Cornell and Technion—Israel Institute of Technology partnership, will be designed to harvest as much energy from the campus site as it consumes. Built with recycled material and designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification, the building will have a high-performance envelope, will harvest daylight to minimize the use of artificial light, and will employ demand-controlled ventilation.
The remainder of the 10-acre campus—which will include residences for faculty, staff, and graduate students, public atria, and corporate space—is designed to achieve a minimum of LEED Silver certification. The campus's planned solar array—the largest in New York—will generate 1.8 megawatts at daily peak. A four-acre geothermal well field will also exceed any current geothermal heating system in the city. The initial phase of the proposed campus will require only a quarter of the electricity from the grid, emit half of the greenhouse gas, and require less than half the fossil fuel to power, heat and cool than a comparable new, conventional campus that meets current energy code. The NYC Tech Campus plan also features over 500,000 square feet of green space and breathtaking views of the Manhattan and Queens waterfronts. The campus will be open and accessible to residents and visitors and would become one of New York City's largest green spaces open to the public.
"This proposed campus goes beyond buildings and reduced energy use—it's a living laboratory that brilliantly anticipates and integrates forward-thinking design and building technologies," says Kent Kleinman, Cornell's Dean of Architecture, Art and Planning. "Forget the cliché 'game-changer,' this New York City campus is more than that. It is the ideal plan for creating an educational environment to train future engineers and designers in the science of sustainability for decades to come. And it will make New York City home to one of the nation's premier green buildings."
To help build a comprehensive energy solution, Cornell partnered with Distributed Sun in Washington, D.C. James Corner Field Operations, a leading-edge landscape architecture and urban design practice, also in New York City, designed the landscaping plan, which includes "green" concepts such as rain gardens and bioswales, green walls and roofs, and reforestation to create a small, new urban forest. And both the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) participated in the conceptualization of the proposed campus's renewable energy scheme.