ETEC Honored by Green Building Council as Building of the Year

View of the ETEC building with surrounding road entrances and greenery
Photo by Lindon A. Paul

By Margaret Hartley

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 21, 2023) — UAlbany’s ETEC research and development complex has been named the 2023 Green Building of the Year by U.S. Green Building Council of Upstate New York, which covers the 55 counties outside of metropolitan New York City.

Interior of ETEC showing light shining in from a wall of windows and a wooden image of Minerva on a wall
ETEC is designed to maximize natural light. (Photo by Brian Busher)

ETEC’s award is one of the USGBC New York’s 2023 Leadership Awards, which celebrate the leaders in using sustainable strategies to drive innovation and transform the building industry. The awards also serve to highlight the green building initiatives of community projects in Upstate New York.

The winners will be honored at the annual Leadership Awards celebration on Nov. 2 in Syracuse. Zach Newswanger, UAlbany’s associate vice president for facilities management, will accept the award for the University.

ETEC, an all-electric 246,00-square-foot academic building, was designed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. It has an energy-efficient building envelope; uses a geothermal heat pump system for heating, cooling and hot water; uses LED lighting and maximizes natural light. Its energy- and water-saving design helped the building achieve LEED Platinum certification, the highest level bestowed by the USGBC.

White pipes and ductwork are seen in a basement mechanical room
The basement mechanical room at ETEC houses the geothermal well field pumps, heat recovery chillers and building heating and cooling pumps. (Photo by Margaret Hartley)

“ETEC is an outstanding example of a built environment that is aesthetically pleasing, comfortable, highly energy efficient and sustainable, while also being reflective of the work that happens within its footprint,” Newswanger said. “It showcases many of the technologies, such as geothermal heat pumps and advanced controls and data acquisition platforms, which were implemented in order to reduce carbon emissions and achieve net zero energy building.”

UAlbany also was honored as a top performer in the buildings category of the 2023 Sustainable Campus Index, released last week by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). AASHE’s program STARS — Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System — is a comprehensive sustainability rating system for higher education institutions, addressing environmental, social and economic sustainability. UAlbany received a Gold STARS rating based on ETEC and the renovated Beverwyck and Schuyler Halls in Dutch Quad, both of which are LEED Gold rated, and Catskill, which is expected to receive LEED certification.

In April, ETEC won a New York State Excelsior design award, which recognizes publicly funded projects for design excellence as well as overall performance and how the project impacts the user and the community.

ETEC houses the University’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, along with the Weather-Climate Enterprise – the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental SciencesAtmospheric Sciences Research Center, New York State Mesonet and Center of Excellence in Weather & Climate Analytics. The National Weather Service also maintains offices in the building.

The College of Nanotechnology, Science and Engineering has a presence in ETEC as well, with two departments — Electrical and Computer Engineering and Environmental and Sustainable Engineering — located in the building.

The building also houses UAlbany’s Innovation Center, an incubator for emerging technology companies that align with the University’s research strengths in climate and environmental science, biomedical and biotechnology, forensic sciences and cybersecurity, and advanced data analytics. The Small Business Development Center, Office for Innovation Development and Commercialization, and Blackstone Launchpad round out the building’s entrepreneurship hub.