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Cornell Tech Unveils Plans to Reach Net Zero

Thursday, June 22, 2017

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Cornell University recently unveiled its three-phase plan for a net-zero, sustainable campus.

In response to a need for green architecture in academia, the university released plans for its newest campus on Roosevelt Island—Cornell Tech. The campus’ buildings will be designed with net zero, passive house and LEED principles in mind.

Cornell University

The Bloomberg Center—named for Michael Bloomberg, who gifted $100 million to the university—will be the main academic hub on the new Cornell campus.

“Cornell Tech will have some of the most environmentally friendly and energy-efficient buildings in the world,” said Dan Huttenlocher, founding dean of Cornell Tech and vice provost in a statement.

The Bloomberg Center

The Bloomberg Center—named for Michael Bloomberg, who gifted $100 million to the university—will be the main academic hub on the new Cornell campus. The Center was designed by architecture firm Morphosis, and is slated to open in September.

Strategies to achieve net zero for the building are both comprehensive and sustainable. According to the university’s website, the Center will be all electric—there is no fossil fuel. Geothermal wells will also be used; each one of the 80 will be 400 feet deep, and each of the ground-source heat pumps will heat and cool the building, acting in tandem with a chilled-beam system.  

The Bloomberg Center will also share a photovoltaic array with The Bridge, a building where tech companies will work with academics. The Center will also have a highly insulated facade, and will utilize smart building technology that includes on-demand response to user needs and occupancy. In addition, there will be a green roof that incorporates native plant species along the southeast end of the building, thus helping cool the roof’s surface, which will incorporate 1,464 solar panels.

The Bloomberg Center is four stories and 160,000 square feet. Designers kept a low and narrow profile in mind, to maximize views across the island. The building will also use a 40,000-gallon rainwater harvesting tank that is buried under the campus lawn. This provides nonpotable water for toilets, the water tower and other uses. To help increase resiliency against future floods, the water tank has been raised.

The onsite residential hall uses passive construction, which strives to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures year-round while minimizing energy use.

Plans for the Future

The Bloomberg Center is just one small part of Cornell’s three-phase plan to create 2 million square feet and 2.5 acres of public open space by 2043. Each phase will follow a design that keeps a “river-to-river” experience in mind, with multiple views, and places for intellectual and community engagement. 


Tagged categories: Color + Design; Environmental Control; Green building; North America

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