Greetings, planet pals. Looks like March has come roaring in like a lion or it comes in like a lamb, or circles like a puppy chasing its tail; I can never remember which. What I am pretty sure about is that here at the University of Rochester as elsewhere throughout the Western New York region, mother nature is not quite finished with us yet. So, keep the shovels, gloves, ice melt and boots close at hand as we welcome March and begin to see the signs of spring.
I hope you indulge the Green Corner as she takes a moment to brag about our newest building on campus, the Saunders Research Building which is the first building at UR to attain LEED Gold status. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the nation’s most prestigious program promoting sustainability in construction/renovation and was founded by the U.S. Green Building Council. Attaining LEED certification is not easy by any means and the criteria is challenging to meet. But, is it ever worth it. We’ll touch on some basic information about the process, but there is something else spectacular about Saunders and we’ll save the best for last.
The building opened in April, 2011 and has been up and running for almost a year. The structure has energy efficient large glass windows, so natural light reduces the need for artificial lighting. When there is a need for artificial lighting, there are sensors to turn on and off. The building is heated and cooled 15% above standards set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
Outside the building, sidewalk areas were designed using porous pavements so an underlying drainage system collects the water and creates a rain garden which means zero irrigation. Additionally, the landscaping design was developed and implemented using plant material native to our region which further enhances and beautifies our environment as well as promoting sustainability.
That is the Cliff’s Notes version of this magnificent structure. For myself and others, here are the real benefits of this research area; the building was purposely designed to have lots and lots of open spaces. When someone thinks of medical research we think of a scientist sitting in a lab maybe with a couple of others devoting their minds to their scientific speciality. What science (along with other disciplines) has taught us is that discoveries, cures, using the scientific approach to maintain reliability and validity does NOT happen in a vacuum. It is not linear. It moves forwards, backwards and sideways at all times. We’ve also learned that those that have come before us have encountered the same kinds of challenges as their modern day counterparts.
Success is best achieved in an area (in this case physical space) where collaboration and open communication take place. That’s where ideas are shared, discussed and argued. To me the Saunders Research Building could not have been designed any better. The atmosphere of collaboration is palpable. Anyone can walk the halls (which are clear and has a writable surface), pick up a marker and jot down theories, formulas and queries that others may see and respond. Scientists, like any group of professionals are intense people who are passionate about what they do. The ability to share and not be burdened with the constraints of physical and psychological barriers means better health care, safer medicines, different treatments.
I’m proud to be a member of a community that recognizes this and fosters this culture. The building is terrific but what goes on inside is even better. I hope you have an opportunity to visit Saunders. It’ll knock your socks off.