Built for a Sustainable Future
The concept of sustainability has risen to the forefront of the global business community as business leaders and educators realize that future success depends on actions taken today. From its conception, the Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise at Ithaca College was at the forefront of this trend. It was designed to be a living laboratory for students to learn and practice the concepts of sustainability — its structure and the curriculum at its heart a reflection of that intent.
Before the first beam was laid, architects, contractors, and interior designers worked to ensure they had minimized waste, included building materials from the nearby region whenever possible, and utilized natural elements such as solar energy and natural heat exchange to the fullest extent. The result is a structure that fosters community interaction, promotes environmental stewardship, and reduces overall operating and maintenance costs.
A Pioneer in Green Design
Numerous innovative features in the Park Center's design and operation help reduce its overall carbon footprint. Some involve structural design, others high-tech systems, while some are simple features or conveniences placed throughout the building for its residents.
The building’s southward-facing orientation — with its magnificent glass-and-steel façade — takes advantage of natural sunlight, thereby maximizing passive solar energy. The spectacular, four-story atrium alone allows sunlight to permeate nearly 98 percent of the interior space, creating an inviting, well-lit interior even on cloudy days. The glass is embedded with electronic sensors that lower shades so the interior doesn’t overheat. The atrium also serves as an “air chimney,” helping circulate the fresh air brought in from the outside as doors on the first and second floor are opened.
Windows in classrooms and conference rooms are also embedded with photosensors that monitor the amount of available light in the room and adjust the overhead lighting accordingly. Innovative landscaping, including a vegetated garden roof with drought-resistant plants, captures rainwater for use in the building's circulation system. That water then gets used to flush toilets.
Rooms and offices are equipped with zone-level demand control that constantly monitors the temperature in a room or pair of offices and adjusts outside air dampers accordingly to maintain a range within the set temperature. Even interior offices have windows overlooking the atrium, and are therefore still able to take advantage of natural light.
Simple inclusions that help meet the building’s goal include plenty of bins for trash and recyclable or compostable items; use of compact florescent light bulbs; and a shower located on the third floor to encourage faculty to bike or walk to work.
Reaching for the Top
All of these design elements and features were incorporated to meet the extremely strict standards prescribed by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.
The most widely accepted benchmark for recognizing high-performance green buildings, the LEED system awards points based on a rigorous set of criteria that encompasses a half-dozen categories, such as indoor environmental quality, materials and resources, and water efficiency. Based on the number of credits earned on a 69-point scale, projects can be designated on one of four levels: "certified," "silver," "gold," or "platinum."
The Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise was explicitly designed to gain platinum-level status; formal certification was granted soon after the building's completion. It was one of the first 100 buildings in the world that have earned this prestigious designation — and Ithaca's was the first business school to do so.
Ready for Success
With its focus on these principles of sustainability, collaboration, and innovation, the building is truly a teaching tool that brings to life the lessons of sustainable practices delivered by the school's forward-looking curriculum.
Graduates will enter the international business community with the ability to shape its future using the unique sustainability-infused perspectives and skills they developed as students at Ithaca, poised to take advantage of future careers that don't even exist today.