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Environmental smarts pervade MCC’s downtown site

Environmental smarts pervade MCC’s downtown site

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With a focus on measures that range from water and energy conservation to the re-use of existing structures, Monroe Community College is creating a green campus downtown.

The college is working toward energy conservation and sustainability goals using green building principles.

Major environmentally friendly features are being incorporated into the location, says Michael Garland, Monroe County’s director of Environmental Services.

“Downtown Rochester is about to become even greener,” Garland says, noting the county followed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, practices during the process.

MCC’s downtown campus is a $78 million project that covers 255,000 square feet on seven floors at Morrie Silver Way and State Street.

Monroe County, which is the college’s local sponsor, bought the buildings. The county has committed $36 million to the project and the state has agreed to match the funding.

Currently, MCC rents space in Sibley Square on Main Street; all of the services and academic programs there will be moved to the new campus.

The project includes flexible, high-tech spaces such as simulation labs that allow for real-world applications; a library/learning commons; event space; a bookstore; a fitness center; food service/cafe and student activity areas.

Construction is in the final stages. The campus will be ready for move-in during the summer once the building passes on-site inspections. Classes are slated to begin there this fall.

The MCC project represents a good example of an adaptive re-use of existing structures, Garland says, adding that re-use is one of many green features that went into developing this property.

“The holistic design makes the building green,” Garland says.

Formerly part of the Eastman Kodak Co. campus, the MCC site includes several integrated buildings that date to the early 1900s. Roughly 95 percent of that structure was re-purposed for the campus.

The project is on time and under budget, Garland says.

The cost of going green is estimated at $680,000, he says. The project leaders are estimating the features will save the campus some $117,000 in energy savings annually, which means the return on investment should be realized in less than six years.

The green elements that were incorporated center around four areas: sustainable site, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, and materials and resources.

A major aspect of the green project is the vegetative eco-roof, which covers 22,000 square feet. Project leaders were able to secure a $1.6 million grant through the Regional Economic Development Council for the eco-roof.

Reinhard Gsellmeier, who is an engineer with Monroe County and the project manager, said the roof is made up of vegetation called sedum that are specifically designed to thrive in urban settings.

The roof decreases stormwater runoff by 50 to 75 percent and produces a consistent microclimate to help offset the urban heat island effect, Garland says. An urban heat island is significantly warmer than surrounding rural areas due to plentiful pavement, concrete and heat-generating human activities.

The water retention of the green roofs will be monitored by sensors that com-pare the total rainfall and the volume of water entering the pipes.

This information will be tied to MCC’s building management system and can be displayed on any monitor connected to the network.

The data will serve as a learning tool for MCC students.

Paul Colucci, vice president of development and construction for DiMarco Constructors, a DiMarco Group company, says the eco-roof was a complex piece of the construction puzzle, given the number of buildings involved that were different ages and in different conditions.

DiMarco served as construction manager of the project, overseeing the prime contractors. Among the firm’s duties was completing documentation related to LEED requirements.

“It’s a big, complex project,” Colucci says. “To be close to finishing and meeting the project’s goals is pretty exciting.”

Another major sustainable design feature is a glass wall of windows spanning seven floors facing State Street. The wall of windows allows natural light to enter deep into the building, producing a comfortable environment indoors and making possible energy cost savings of 25 percent. This is accomplished by replacing the pre-existing single-pane glass with thermal pane glazing and adding insulation to the exterior.

Jerry DeRomanis, who is the project manager for LaBella Associates P.C. and the project architect, says one of the challenges was taking the site—which formerly housed industrial, research and office facilities with heavy mechanicals—and re-using it as an environmentally friendly college campus.

For example, there were previously a number of small windows that limited natural lighting, so creating more natural light was a project priority, DeRomanis says.

LaBella architect Jessica Kruse, who was charged with making sure the project hit its LEED standards, notes the complex will now be more energy efficient than in the past through the use of modern lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Much of the construction debris from the project will not end up in a landfill either, Kruse notes.

In fact, more than 85 percent of construction waste and debris was diverted from the landfill, a process known as recycled resource avoidance.

Several steps were also included to promote the use of mass transit, Garland says.

That includes the complex’s proximity to bus stops and 42 bicycle storage racks, showers and a changing facility for bikers. There is also preferred parking for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles.

In terms of water efficiency, the campus will use 40 percent less water than standard buildings due to the plumbing infrastructure. The heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems are 23 percent more efficient than traditional systems, and light emitting diode lighting is used throughout the campus.

Many of the energy-efficient features are not apparent and may go unnoticed by those who use the property, Garland says.

“A lot of the features are behind the walls,” he says. “They are incorporated into the building.”

Joel Frater, executive dean of MCC’s downtown campus, says the buildings reflect the college’s long-held commitment to sustainability.

“Having sustainable design features such as green roofs and bike racks provides hands-on teaching tools to promote sustainability awareness and encourages individual behavior change,” Frater says.

“As part of the High Falls eco-district, we embrace our responsibility to do what is best for the environment and our community and to empower our students to be agents of change.”

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