The Mortimer B. Zuckerman Research Center is a high-performance “green building,” which strives to address environmental, economic, and social concerns by using design and construction practices intended to significantly reduce or eliminate negative effects on the environment and the building’s occupants.
- At least 25 percent of the materials used in the construction of the project are 20 percent post-consumer recycled content or 40 percent post-industrial recycled content.
- 20 percent of the materials used were manufactured within 500 miles of the site.
- None of the refrigerants used contain ozone-depleting components.
- At least 50 percent of all construction wastes were recycled or reused.
- A 20 percent reduction in overall energy use was achieved through the incorporation of a digital lighting control system; a heat recovery system; variable frequency drives (a system that controls the rotational speed of an electric motor, adjusting itself to changing loads and energy demands); and a variable air conditioning system, in which room temperatures are controlled by varying the volume of cooled air supplied to the occupied rooms it serves, while maintaining even cooling.
According to the facility’s architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, a green building is not only environmentally sensitive, but also provides immediate and long-term economic benefits compared to a structure built using traditional design and construction practices including:
- Improved indoor air quality
- Increased natural lighting
- Greater productivity
- Enhanced work performance
- Lower total long-term costs due to significantly reduced energy and other operating expenses
The laboratory side of the research building is sheathed in a glass curtain wall that employs ceramic “frit” patterns baked onto the glass to filter and diffuse the low-angle western sun while maximizing daylight in the labs that line the west side of the building. “Fritting” controls the amount of light that enters the building and the amount of light the building itself emits. Combined with integrated exterior sun-shading devices to minimize glare in the office areas, fritting creates an energy-efficient building that can be operated cost-effectively.
The facility is expected to be among the first research buildings in New York State to receive certification from the LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™, a benchmarking standard developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) that evaluates the environmental performance of buildings. LEED® certification recognizes a collaborative and integrated design and construction approach that optimizes environmental and economic factors such as sustainable site development—an approach that begins with selecting a suitable site for a particular development and seeks to develop that site with respect for the local environment—water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. The USGBC is the nation’s leading coalition of corporations, builders, universities, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations that work together to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible.