President Harvey Stenger, left, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy, right, state Sen. Thomas Libous and Assemblyman Clifford Crouch talk after the groundbreaking of the Smart Energy Research and Development Facility at the Innovative Technologies Complex on Aug. 27.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
University breaks ground on Smart Energy Facility
August 27, 2014Tweet
For Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger, the start of construction on the Smart Energy Research and Development Facility is a milestone in the University’s history.
“This building will serve as a home for remarkable research that our faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students will conduct in the area of clean-energy production, utilization and efficiencies,” he said.
Stenger spoke at an Aug. 27 groundbreaking ceremony for the $70 million, 114,000-square-foot building at the Innovative Technologies Complex. He was joined by dignitaries including Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, state Sen. Thomas Libous, state Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and state Assemblyman Clifford Crouch. Many other campus leaders − including Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Donald Nieman and Harpur College of Arts and Sciences Dean Anne McCall – and faculty members attended the festivities that concluded with an excavator making the “first dig.”
The Smart Energy Research and Development Facility is a result of the NYSUNY 2020 plan approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature in 2012. NYSUNY 2020 allowed the University to implement a rational tuition program that enabled the campus to embark on a project for significant growth and to pursue a smart-energy research site.
The facility, scheduled for completion in 2017, will house the physics and chemistry departments based in Harpur College. Research at the site will focus on alternative energy production, harvesting and storage in areas such as thin-film solar panel design and production, consumer-ready solar cells and next-generation battery production.
Besides its importance to the University, Stenger said the facility will have a significant economic impact in the state and region. With a direct economic impact of $78.5 million on Broome and Tioga counties during its construction phase, the project will support more than 500 local jobs, including about 200 construction jobs. After construction, new employees will generate $2.5 million of economic impact annually to the local economy.
“It is going to be important to our community,” he said. “The hiring of new faculty, the admission of new students and the technologies that will flow out of this research and be housed in our Center of Excellence Building, Engineering Building, Smart Energy Building as well as the incubator downtown we hope will create the next wave of jobs in the Southern Tier.”
Duffy also emphasized the economic impact of the project and praised Cuomo, Stenger and “state partners” Libous and Lupardo for making the vision a reality.
“This building is going to create so much excitement in the Southern Tier,” Duffy said. “It’s going to help other businesses and lead to more synergistic relationships across the Southern Tier. What you are seeing here is the beginning of jobs being created and a new series of technologies being created.”
Libous called the project a “team effort” that displays how the state Senate and Assembly can connect for a community.
“We worked together,” Libous said, saluting Lupardo and Crouch. “Projects can get delayed like they do in other parts of the state because the Assembly and Senate fight. We fight after we get the project done because we know what is important to our community.
“This University will continue to grow and provide jobs and create new jobs,” he added. “But most importantly, it will continue to provide top-notch education. I’m proud to be affiliated with you, Harvey. Keep it going, man.”
Lupardo stressed that the ceremony was “not just another groundbreaking at a SUNY school.”
“This is the result of the hopes and dreams and aspirations of everyone (here) and every individual who has helped Binghamton University develop into the premier research institution that it is today,” she said. “They are committed to helping solve one of the world’s greatest challenges: how to provide smart and clean energy. The work they are doing has far-reaching implications well beyond the great state of New York.”
McCall thanked the University’s scholars and researchers “whose expertise and commitment will bring this great dream to fruition.”
“The Smart Energy R&D Facility will enable Binghamton scientists to pursue some of the big questions that matter most to our society: How can we create more affordable solar power? Build cars that require less gas? Improve the energy efficiency of all sorts of devices?” she said. “This facility will also help us educate a new generation of scientists and engineers who will join us in seeking answers to these questions and many others we have yet to consider.”
The two-story building will feature ornate custom steel in public areas as well as a green roof. LEED platinum standards will be followed throughout construction – the highest certification possible. Features will include micro turbines on mechanical systems; a fuel cell to produce electricity at a reduced cost to heat and cool the building; photovoltaic panels on the roof to produce electricity; hydronic radiant heating in the floor; controlled LED lighting; and water-cooled equipment wherever possible to conserve energy.
“If you are going to construct a smart-energy building, you better make it LEED platinum,” Stenger said. “But that’s not easy to do. There are only two SUNY buildings in the state of New York that are LEED platinum and we hope this will be the third.
“There is a lot at stake,” Stenger said of the smart-energy facility. “Community involvement is going to be important. We want to make this a great, successful project.”