Upstate’s downtown residence hall achieves LEED Silver certification

Upstate Medical University’s downtown Syracuse residence hall, Geneva Tower, has received LEED Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The high-rise facility, which features 139 apartments for students and medical residents, opened in 2012 following a $32 million renovation.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To qualify for the LEED Silver, Upstate had to achieve a certain number of credits that reflect cost and resource conservation in addition to promoting renewable, clean energy.

Upstate acquired Geneva Tower from the Empire State Development Corp. in 2010. At that time, the building was vacant and in need of repairs. A significant portion of the $32 million renovation included upgrades to the building’s windows, lighting and insulation, as well as heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems.

“As Geneva Tower was an existing structure, implementing sustainable measures and high-efficiency systems was challenging at times,” said Tom Pelis, assistant vice president for facilities and planning. “The design, construction and commissioning teams that worked together to achieve this goal deserve a round of applause. This is a wonderful achievement for Upstate and reflects its ongoing commitment to sustainability.”

Pelis says the strategic renovations enabled the building to receive LEED Silver certification. The certification acknowledged the facility’s community connectivity, access to public and alternative transportation, water efficient landscaping, and water use reduction methods, among other measures.

“Geneva Tower boasts an extremely energy-efficient system,” said Pelis. “The facility uses high-efficiency lighting inside and out, two rainfall run-off reduction areas, on-site Zipar accessibility and uses 100 percent renewable energy.”

Upstate is also working to achieve LEED Silver certification for the Cancer Center, Neuroscience Research Building, Cord Blood Bank, which is being constructed at Upstate University Hospital’s Community Campus, the new academic building located west of the Weiskotten Hall Addition, and Biotech Accelerator Center.

In addition to LEED certification, Geneva Tower is also the first smoke-free high rise building in upstate New York to be designated as a “Healthy High Rise” by the American Cancer Society.

Healthy High Rises is an American Cancer Society recognition program for multi-unit residential housing in New York and New Jersey that have a smoke-free policy, meaning no one is allowed to smoke anywhere in the building. The program is designed to promote healthier environments, reduce cancer risk, and improve the quality of people’s lives by reducing exposure to harmful secondhand smoke seeping into people’s homes.

Upstate officials say more than 150 people were employed during Geneva Tower’s renovation project. Hueber-Breuer of Syracuse was the project’s construction manager. Lead architect was Architecteam, also of Syracuse.

Geneva Tower is a 21-story building located at 500 Harrison Street in Syracuse. It features 139 apartments, including one-bedroom, two-bedroom and four-bedroom units. Amenities include wireless internet access, air conditioning, laundry, fitness room, free cable television and utilities and dishwasher. The building also features several conference rooms for group study. The one- and two-bedroom units have a single private bathroom; the four-bedroom suite has two private baths and two walk-in storage closets. All units come fully furnished.

Formerly known as Townsend Tower, Upstate changed the name to Geneva Tower in honor of Upstate’s earliest predecessor, Geneva Medical College, which was founded in 1834 and located in Geneva N.Y.

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