Sustainable features

SUNY Oswego's Rice Creek Field Station's scheduled rejuvenation has become a rebirth as of later summer 2013, thanks to a new, larger, greener building to replace the wood-frame structure that has housed the research and educational headquarters serving the college and community since 1966.

During the planning process, the decision was made to tear down the old structure and build a new one about 50 feet to the north of the old location, setting the entire facility further away from the edge the wetlands.

In all, the finalized 3 million dollar project has not only an energy-efficient, 7640 square-foot main building, but an adjacent astronomical observatory, rebuilt pavilion, reconstructed parking area and storage building for the 400-acre preserve.  The Ruth Sachidanandan Herb Garden and the trail entrances remained unchanged and anchor the new facilities.

  • The previous structure opened in 1966 and was a 3,500 square feet wood-framed flat roofed building; the new building is 7640 square feet of state of the art research and learning spaces.
  • Designed and constructed to achieve LEED Gold Certification.
  • Main building is designed to be much closer to a net-zero structure in terms of carbon emissions.
  • The exterior features a super insulated assembly including, spray polyurethane foam insulation, triple-glazed glass and fibrous cement board siding for user comfort, durability and energy savings that will reduce energy consumption by 30% compared to similar buildings of standard construction.
  • A sun shade system along the exterior of the south side of the building is set-up to provide shading during the summer when the sun is high and be less obstructive during the winter when the sun is low.  It is designed to balance out the need for a lot of natural light with reduced cooling loads.
  • Rooftop mounted solar Photovoltaic (PV) system will provide about 40% of total electrical needs. (watch the video Solar Panels at SUNY Oswego)
  • Advanced storm water retention basins and fully engineered septic system will keep sediment and pollution out of the surrounding wetlands and creek, making the new facilities as environmentally sensitive as possible. 
  • Storm water basins also serve as rain gardens.  There are two landscaped rain gardens at Rice Creek.  One is located to the east of the building, in the side yard, receiving the rain and snow/ice melt runoff from the parking area and the other to the south of the building, in the backyard, receiving rain and snow/ice melt water from the roof.
  • Super-efficient heat pumps will provide year round heating and cooling as needed on a space-by-space basis.
  • The water fountain is equipped with a water bottle filling station, encouraging reuse rather than new purchases of plastic bottles.  The counter illustrated how many plactic bottles have been eliminated with each use of the filling station.
  • Bathroom toilets automatically use the most efficient amount of water needed for each flush.
  • Photosensitive and motion detector monitors control many of the indoor lights.  Outdoor LED street lamps are on a timer set to the photoperiod of the season.
  • Pavilion and storage building have energy efficient metal roofs that due to the ribbed design and thin thickness of the metal material can dissipate heat better and cool off quicker than traditional shingled roofs.
  • Limited parking encourages alternate means of transportation such as carpooling, shuttle, bicycle or walking.

The floor plan for the new headquarters includes 24-seat wet and dry laboratories, with the dry lab separated from a 24-seat classroom by a retractable folding wall.  There is a research lab and a collections room, a bright welcoming area with a library, a mudroom and a shower for cleaning up after field work, a control room for the observatory adjacent to the building, and administrative spaces.  The observatory structure contains a 12.5" telescope outfitted with an H-alpha filter for solar viewing.