Binghamton University's new LEED(R) Platinum certified building supports the latest pedagogies for science teaching and collaboration.
The Engineering and Science Building (ESB) is the second addition to Binghamton’s Innovative Technologies Complex, and provides much needed new space for the University’s Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science. It houses the Watson School’s dean’s office, departments of mechanical engineering and electrical and computer engineering, the Integrated Electronics Engineering Center, start-up suites, academic spaces and flexible laboratory spaces.
The facility's laboratory space allocation model focuses on shared space to encourage and facilitate collaboration. Laboratory features include:
- A large laboratory to house the majority of resources and equipment, with adjacent smaller labs
- Large, shared, computational work spaces
- Skycaps that hang from the ceiling and run the length of a work bench, with color-coded ports that researchers can easily plug into for power and other needs
- Adjustable bench heights to accommodate equipment and users
- Specialized accommodations for specific research needs: one room includes a static dissipating floor to ensure that electrical charges don’t adversely affect a researcher’s work with electronics; there is also an anechoic chamber to stop reflections of sound or electromagnetic waves.
- A key indicator of science data and bandwidth trends: the building also has over 25,000 data drops (Internet ports) - more than any other building on campus.
The building itself is designed to foster collaboration and teaching. Mechanical systems are accessible and serve as a teaching tool for engineering students. Laboratories are also visible in the hallway through a wall of windows allowing for the space to be used as a showcase for student and faculty work or to be closed off by window treatments for privacy.
ESB includes a tour-de-force of "Green" features, each designed to reduce operating and lifecycle cost:
- Energy wheels are used in place of traditional heat recovery coils and heat pipes, greatly increasing the efficiency in both heating and cooling modes. This is a particularly important feature for laboratories, which require a large amount of outside air for ventilation that cannot be recirculated due to health and safety requirements.
- Geothermal heating is used to circulate water that has been warmed by the natural temperatures of the earth’s core This design takes advantage of the moderate temperatures in the ground to boost efficiency and reduce energy costs.
- Offices are outfitted with active chilled beams, a radiant heating and cooling system that is installed in the ceiling and uses water, rather than air, to remove heat caused by lights, computers and other equipment. This is a technology widely used in Europe but, to date, with very few applications in the United States.
- The main entrance, rotunda and bridge feature in-floor radiant geothermal heating. These systems are more efficient as they provide heating and cooling at the floor level rather than conditioning the entire space.
- Skylights that offer the same insulation as a regular roof but allow for natural light to flood hallways, laboratories and shared spaces. Offices are located around the perimeter of the building and utilize light shelves. Widespread use of natural light also drives down energy costs for the facility.
- A data center/server room that uses a cold-water system to draw heat away to pre-heat the laboratory outside air.
- A photovoltaic wall (two stories of solar panels) that converts sunlight to electricity.
- A green roof that insulates the building and is self-sustaining by eliminating runoff, increasing the roof’s lifespan.
- A 200,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system that will provide water for restrooms and the cooling towers.
The $66 million facility is coming online just in time to capitalize on rapid growth of engineering and science disciplines.
"We are very proud of the Engineering and Science building project," said Jesenko Muftic, director of design at Binghamton University. "It is an excellent example of our commitment to ‘green design’ at Binghamton University and the State University of New York system, under the direction of the State University Construction Fund."