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The completely reconstructed Upson Hall has been certified LEED platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Upson Hall makeover achieves LEED platinum

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Lindsey Hadlock

Calculations for Upson Hall's energy efficiency reflect a 66.62 percent energy-cost reduction – a new Cornell LEED record.

The completely reconstructed Upson Hall – for 60 years an anchor on the Engineering Quad and home to the College of Engineering’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering – has been certified LEED Platinum.

Upson Hall is Cornell’s fifth LEED Platinum building and the 21st overall LEED certified project completed on the Ithaca campus. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the rating system used by the U.S. Green Building Council to measure a building’s sustainability and resource efficiency.

The Upson Hall project earned 83 points, exceeding the 80 points needed to achieve the top certification, including all 19 points possible for optimized energy performance. Calculations for the building’s energy efficiency reflect a 66.62 percent energy-cost reduction – a new Cornell LEED record.

“Platinum is the highest level of recognition for sustainable design and construction under the LEED system and is quite an accomplishment for a research building,” said Matthew Kozlowski, Cornell’s Green Building Program manager. “The performance of the newly renovated Upson Hall is truly exceptional.”

Upson’s exterior panels were replaced with an innovative terra cotta envelope that balances highly efficient window systems with a densely insulated wall assembly. “Couple this with a reflective, insulated roof system and you get a well-balanced, watertight shell that reflects summer sun and retains warmth during the winter,” he said.

“This LEED platinum certification is extremely important to Cornell Engineering,” said Erin Mulrooney, the college’s associate dean for administration. “We value sustainability and engage in research that moves that agenda forward. That’s why it makes sense that Upson Hall – our newest renovation – would reach this level of sustainability.”

Upson Hall was stripped to its concrete frame and completely reconstructed to modern design standards. Sophisticated mechanical, lighting and control systems boost the structure’s energy performance levels. “The remarkable thing is that the building was partially occupied through the entire project, as each phase was completed, the building occupants shifted spaces,” said Kozlowski.

The 1958 building is named for engineer Maxwell Upson, Class of 1899, who was a Cornell trustee for 35 years. The 160,000-square-foot structure was designed by Cornell alumni and founders of the Chicago architectural firm Perkins+Will Larry Perkins, B.Arch. ’30, and Philip Will Jr., B.Arch. ’28.

Upson Hall’s redesign team was led by Robert Goodwin, B.Arch. ’84, of Perkins+Will’s New York studio, and David J. Lewis, M.A. ’92, principal at Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis Architects. Craig Sobeski, M.Arch. ’07, of Perkins+Will, tracked the LEED certification effort.


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Blaine Friedlander