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UR Green News
Volume 3 Issue 2
October 13, 2013

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Take the Go Green Pledge!

take the pledgeRochester Earns an "A-"College Sustainability Report Card

take the pledgeIncluded in Princeton Review's Guide to 311 Green Colleges

Achievements in Sustainability at Rochester

The CTSB/Saunders Research Building

interior during construction

The University’s first LEED certified building opened its doors in May

The University’s newly dedicated Saunders Research Building, which houses the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, is the first on campus to formally receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status.  Built to facilitate collaboration between researchers in community and preventive medicine, neurological disorders, cancer, pediatrics, cardiovascular disease, emergency medicine, biostatistics , bioinformatics, and experimental therapeutics, its designers  and construction teams have labored to create a working environment both ideal for interaction and certifiably green.

That beauty can accompany energy efficiency and cost savings in green building is immediately apparent on entering the Saunders building’s open and spacious atrium, with its rich Forest Stewardship Council  certified wood panels and soaring glass windows.  This blending of natural aesthetics and  advanced technologies in service to sustainability is a theme of the building throughout.

The large windows that line the building are energy efficient, brightening the rooms of its open layout floor plan naturally,  reducing need for artificial lighting. Sensors dim the lighting system when daylight is sufficient and shut it off when offices are unoccupied.  Heating and cooling system s are also built for efficiency. One of the building’s four air handlers uses Heat Wheel technology, a system which recovers and re-circulates heat from the exhaust side to the supply side, rather than releasing it into the air as waste.  Ducts and piping were sealed during the construction phase to prevent contaminants from entering the system prior to start-up.  These features are projected to lead to system performance 15% over and above American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers requirements.

Sustainable building methods also figure prominently on Saunders’ exterior.  Sections of the roof were constructed with a highly reflective white surface to reduce the building’s and University’s overall “heat island effect”.  Parking areas are built of porous pavement with underlying drainage systems that direct storm water runoff to a rain garden. The rain garden filters the water then directs it to the native plant species that enhance the building’s north and south entries, eliminating the need for irrigation.  Over the two years of the project, the building process reflected sustainable methods: crews diverted 75% of construction waste away from landfills by grinding up drywall to use as soil, recycling metal, paper, and cardboard and recycling concrete and brick.

The commitment to sustainability does not cease with construction’s end.  Efforts to promote mindfulness among Saunders’ occupants are also part of the long-term plan. For openers, “preferred parking” spaces located nearest the building’s entry will be allocated for those driving low emission, fuel efficient vehicles. Ongoing initiatives  to enhance features and shape behavior make it likely that Saunders will eventually  receive LEED Silver (possibly Gold) Certification for consistent effort to construct and maintain a sustainable building.

The Clinical and Translational Research Institute will provide hundreds of new jobs, housing more than 600 scientists, physicians, nurses, statisticians, research administrators, and support staff when fully occupied. The Center for Governmental Research projects that it will bring $30 million per year from grants and research activity to Rochester. For its economic contribution, it’s mission to speed the movement of health care research from the lab to the bedside, and for its commitment to sustainable living, the Institute can truly be called a leader for a better tomorrow. For more information, please visit:

For information on other 2010-2011 achievements in energy efficiency visit: