RIT receives federal grant to construct new sustainability research facility

September 30, 2010

Rochester Institute of Technology has been awarded a $13.1 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to assist in construction of a new green facility that will house the university's Golisano Institute for Sustainability. The building will serve as a center for sustainability research, technology transfer, education and outreach and provide a state-of-the-art showcase for green construction and design.

"RIT is committed to enhancing sustainable development through innovative research and education initiatives as well as increased implementation of sustainable processes in our facilities and campus design," says RIT President Bill Destler. "We are extremely honored to have been chosen for this award, which will assist us in promoting both of these goals and will serve as a model for other universities across the country."

The Golisano Institute was formed in 2007 thanks to a $10 million gift from Paychex founder and chairman B. Thomas Golisano. The institute currently houses one of the world's first Ph.D. programs in sustainable production and is developing master's degrees in sustainable systems and sustainable architecture.

The institute also conducts cutting-edge research in nanotechnology, alternative energy development and validation, sustainable design and pollution prevention and works with a host of businesses and state and federal agencies including Xerox Corp., Eastman Kodak Co., General Motors, Staples, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The institute also has longstanding relationships with many other companies, assisting in promoting the use of environmentally benign manufacturing, which has reduced waste and energy use while also increasing productivity and efficiency.

"This award will be a great boost to RIT's efforts to build a world-class hub for sustainability research and education," says Nabil Nasr, assistant provost and director of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability. "This tremendous support from NIST will allow us to exponentially expand our research base and assist us in educating the next generation of professionals in a field that is vital to our society's well being."

The grant is a component of the NIST Construction Grant Program and RIT was selected after an extensive competitive search. Only five projects were selected out of 124 proposals received. RIT has also received $10 million in funding from the state of New York to assist with construction, and New York's U.S. Senate delegation and Rochester's congressional delegation have secured substantial funding for the institute's applied research and technology transfer programs in life-cycle engineering, fuel-cell technology and other focus areas.

In addition, the Golisano Institute has received significant corporate and foundation investments toward its education and research programming as well as its laboratory facilities, including $2 million from Xerox and $1 million from Eastman Kodak.

RIT expects to break ground on the new facility in spring 2011. The new building will be designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council, which sets goals for waste and energy minimization and reuse in building construction and operation. The campus already features one LEED Platinum and one LEED Gold facility.

"The alternative energy field is poised for massive growth in the coming years, and this grant will help make sure that residents of Rochester and the surrounding communities will be able to reap the benefits of new jobs and economic development," notes Senator Charles Schumer.

"These dollars for RIT will increase research and spur innovation toward sustainable energy and environmentally friendly buildings and manufacturing processes," adds Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. "This will make green energy more accessible and affordable helping to cut emissions, improve our environment, lower our energy bills and create good paying jobs right here at home. This program makes good sense for our economy and our environment."

"I'm delighted RIT has received this funding that will help build the nation's first living laboratory dedicated to developing solutions in sustainability," notes Congresswoman Louise Slaughter who wrote to the National Institute of Standards and Technology urging them to support the project. "The Golisano Institute for Sustainability will connect state of the art university research with the existing and emerging needs of U.S. manufacturers, spurring a 'revolutionary reinvention' of U.S. and global manufacturing."

"RIT has long been a leader through its conservation efforts, and this funding will allow the Golisano Institute for to educate others on the benefits of sustainability, environmental construction and design," notes Congressman Chris Lee. "This funding is a direct result of the strong leadership of Tom Golisano, RIT President Bill Destler, and everyone else associated with this important project, and I look forward to continuing to work with RIT on its renewable energy and sustainability projects in the future."

"I congratulate RIT on its leadership in advancing sustainable development and commitment to making this region the center of green technology innovation," says Congressman Dan Maffei. "This award reinforces the support and endless potential for research, education and job growth in areas that will preserve our environment for the future."

The Golisano Institute for Sustainability builds on over two decades of research and education programming in environmentally benign design, sustainable production and recycling and remanufacturing process improvement conducted at RIT.

"We congratulate RIT on its success in being one of five institutions nationwide selected for this tremendously competitive award," says Edward Reinfurt, executive director of the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation. The University's commitment to supporting green-building research and other sustainable technologies has assisted them in leveraging these significant federal dollars. We applaud the Golisano Institute's leadership team under Nabil Nasr for reaching another impressive milestone in its short history."

"It is imperative that we accelerate strategies to promote a sustainable society and ensure future generations the opportunity to address their own needs," explains Golisano, who also serves on the RIT Board of Trustees. "For that reason, it is my desire for the Golisano Institute for Sustainability to produce the first generation of professionals with the vision and know-how to deliver on the promise of sustainability, and I am very proud to be associated with this exciting endeavor."
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Rochester Institute of Technology

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