February 17, 2013

What's going there?

By: Larry Rulison

Source: Times Union

UAlbany NanoCollege campus

This has been a busy few weeks for the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

First, the school said the Children's Museum of Science and Technology, more popularly known as CMOST, was becoming part of the NanoCollege.

Although CMOST will keep its museum at Rensselaer Technology Park in North Greenbush as part of the new arrangement, CMOST will set up its administrative offices at the NanoCollege's campus on Fuller Road in Albany.

And Tech Valley High School, which is currently located at UAlbany's East Campus in East Greenbush, will make the NanoCollege its home starting in the fall of 2014.

Although the NanoCollege is in a constant state of expansion, the latest project being the $356 million NanoFab X building at the northern edge of its property close to Interstate 90, virtually every square foot of space at the school is already in use. Today, there isn't room for CMOST, let alone for the 22,000 square feet of space that Tech Valley High intends to occupy.

CMOST and Tech Valley High will be tenants in a new building, currently in the design phase, that will occupy a small piece of undeveloped land next to the west end of the NanoFab X building.

The new building, which will be called the ZEN building, for "zero-energy nano," will be unlike any other building on the campus.

The ZEN building will house much of the NanoCollege's energy technology programs, including its federally funded solar manufacturing consortium. The building is being designed to produce as much energy as it requires – essentially making it a "net zero" energy consumer that in theory could operate without being connected to the electrical grid.

The school has been touting the building as a "living laboratory" that will use all of the latest renewable energy sources, from hydrogen-powered fuel cells to solar panels.

Compared to the majority of the other buildings at the NanoCollege that house the computer chip manufacturing equipment in clean rooms pumped with ultra-pure air, the ZEN building will be much more accessible and open – perfect for a high school.

Few details have been revealed about the ZEN building, although school officials have shown off renderings of the facility during industry presentations. Recently, the state said the school will receive $1 million for design work and that construction is expected to begin this year.

The price tag has been estimated in the $90 million range, with funding coming mostly from the private sector.