Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute undertook the design and construction of its new Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), designing a new performing arts center with the goal of attaining LEED certification. The 220,000-square-foot, seven-story facility is comprised of a 1,200-seat concert hall, 400-seat theater, practice rooms, performance studios, production suites, an atrium lobby, and cafe. The dramatic design, built into a hillside, resembles a ship’s wooden hull. EMPAC director Johannes Goebel came to Troy from the Institute for Music and Acoustics at the Zentrum fur Kunst and Medientechnologie in Germany to oversee early design. The design team included architecture firms Grimshaw Architects, and Davis, Brody, Bond; acousticians Kirkegaard Associates; and theater consultants Fisher Dachs. Rensselaer students participated in feasibility studies for interior design features, including the acoustical canvas ceiling in the concert hall.
Energy-efficiency features of the building include a 20,000-square-foot glass curtain wall, high albedo roof, high-efficiency lighting systems with controls, variable air volume system, high-efficiency humidifiers, heat recovery system, efficient motors, and variable-speed drives. The energy analysis performed by Einhorn Yaffee Prescott for the NYSERDA New Construction Program determined that the project, at 19.1 percent above code, would be eligible for an incentive of $400,000, with an additional $40,000 (10 percent) for achieving LEED certification.
EMPAC officially opened in October 2008. Commissioning by Einhorn Yaffee Prescott continued over the course of the next year, ensuring that all systems were installed and operating as designed. In March 2010, EMPAC received LEED certification with 32 points.
Institute Curtis R. Priem
Experimental Media and
Performing Arts Center
Incentives and Results
NYSERDA’s incentive of $440,000 helped this project defray a portion of implementation costs to install energy-efficiency improvements. RPI’s investment could result in:
- Annual energy savings of 2,228,046 kWh
- Summer peak demand savings of 815 kW
- Annual energy cost savings of $97,162