The University at Albany on Wednesday unveiled its state-of-the-art new ETEC research and development complex designed to bring together scientists and entrepreneurs from across disciplines to collaboratively find solutions to society’s most complex challenges.
The $180 million facility is the epicenter of many of the University’s signature research strengths, including climate science, emergency preparedness and cybersecurity. As a hub for research, scholarship, applied learning and commercial development, ETEC is designed to foster interdisciplinary collaborations among students, faculty and entrepreneurs to translate new knowledge into innovative solutions to build a more resilient and economically vibrant New York.
At 246,000 square feet, ETEC is one of UAlbany’s largest and most energy-efficient buildings and represents a significant milestone in SUNY’s commitment to sustainability. Heated and cooled by 190 geothermal wells and powered in part by nearly 4,800 solar panels on UAlbany’s Uptown Campus, ETEC is an all-electric facility built to achieve LEED Platinum certification and projected to lower annual energy costs by as much as 70 percent compared to a similar baseline building.
High-resolution photos of ETEC are available in this UAlbany photo gallery.
Wednesday’s unveiling was the culmination of a vision that began in 2012 as UAlbany’s marquee project under the NYSUNY 2020 challenge grant program. Backed by $35 million in NYSUNY 2020 funding, the ETEC vision grew larger and more ambitious when UAlbany partnered with New York State to locate the building on the neighboring Harriman State Office Campus — a first for UAlbany. Originally called the Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurship Complex, the facility is now known simply as ETEC.
A new era of research at UAlbany
“The opening of ETEC is truly a milestone in UAlbany’s history,” said University at Albany President Havidán Rodríguez. “This game-changing facility not only embodies the University’s nationally leading academic and research assets — it also represents our commitment to address the greatest challenges facing humankind and the planet. With ETEC, we usher in a new era of high-impact collaborations that will bring together students, researchers, and public-and private-sector partners to create a better future for our communities and for the world.”
“The opening of ETEC research and entrepreneurship complex demonstrates how state investment in public higher education can yield real and immense results that provide our students with the highest quality and cutting edge education available,” said SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras. “My thanks to Governor Hochul, state legislative leaders, and local leaders who believed in SUNY and the vision of this facility to bring together a wide range of students, educators, industry leaders and entrepreneurs to solve many of the world’s greatest environmental challenges right under one SUNY roof. I am excited for our students and faculty, and the generations to come, who will learn in this magnificent building and take their education and research to new heights.”
ETEC is home to UAlbany’s first-in-the-nation College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity; the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ departments of Environmental and Sustainable Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering; UAlbany’s expansive Weather-Climate Enterprise, including the world-renowned Atmospheric Sciences Research Center and Center of Excellence in Weather & Climate Analytics; and the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences as well as Department of Chemistry research labs.
The building also is home to the UAlbany-operated New York State Mesonet, the most advanced statewide early warning weather-detection system in the nation, and key partners like the Regional Forecast Office of the National Weather Service.
“The National Weather Service is proud of our decades-long partnership with the University of Albany,” said Louis W. Uccellini, director of the National Weather Service. “We look forward to enhanced collaborations and deepened opportunities for cross-discipline teamwork enabled by this new facility, which will improve local forecasts and warnings for extreme weather and water events and the provision of Impact-based Decision Support Services for community preparation, response and resilience.”
Seeding economic growth by teaming researchers with entrepreneurs
Business development services that support faculty research and drive economic growth are central to the ETEC vision. The UAlbany Innovation Center incubator occupies part of the first floor, along with the Small Business Development Center, commercialization and technology transfer offices as well as private partners like TruWeather Solutions. Two Entrepreneurs-in-Residence will help guide faculty, researchers and independent entrepreneurs through the early critical steps of ushering their discoveries to market.
“Facilities such as ETEC drive cutting-edge R&D, support our entrepreneurs, and guide tech startups through commercialization to economic growth,” said Mark Eagan, president of the Capital Region Chamber and the Center for Economic Growth. “The Capital Region is successful in leveraging the research power of our universities to create tech clusters with solid economic impacts, and I see that happening with the University at Albany in the fields of cybersecurity, atmospheric sciences and environmental and sustainable engineering.”
ETEC also leverages an advantage that no other public research university can: UAlbany’s proximity to the nerve center of New York State government. By virtue of its location on the Harriman State Office Campus, ETEC puts students, faculty and staff on the doorstep of frontline public agencies developing and implementing policy relevant to their research areas. This proximity also provides unparalleled applied learning opportunities for UAlbany students.
Featured spaces inside ETEC include a decision theater to allow faculty and students to replicate real-world emergency response scenarios, a maker lab for robot and drone construction, a high-powered xCITE Lab computing center for complex data visualizations and analysis, a nearly six-foot diameter globe for tracking hurricanes and other weather systems across the world, a glass-enclosed fifth-floor observation room to monitor incoming storms, and a rooftop equipment deck for launching weather balloons and other experiments. The building also features a section of green roof for teaching, research and stormwater control.
ETEC was supported by $750,000 in incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
Meaningfully connecting the UAlbany and Harriman campuses
A new shared-use path connects ETEC and the Harriman Campus to the rest of UAlbany’s Uptown Campus to encourage students, faculty and staff to walk or cycle between them, reducing congestion and emissions associated with single-occupancy car trips. Working with the New York State Office of General Services (OGS) and the Capital District Transportation Authority, UAlbany built a new road connection between the two campuses to pave the way for CDTA’s new Purple Line Bus Rapid Transit service, which will dramatically reduce travel time between UAlbany’s Downtown and Uptown campuses. The new connector road is not open to private vehicles.
ETEC was designed by CannonDesign Architecture and Engineering and constructed by Consigli Construction Co., Inc., under the management of Turner Construction Company and the State University Construction Fund. UAlbany broke ground on the project in April 2018, and the building was substantially complete by July 2021 — on time and budget despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “The University at Albany’s ETEC complex is leading the way as a model for sustainability and energy efficiency with its use of geothermal technology, clean, renewable solar energy and its advancement of education, research, development and collaboration that is critical to fostering solutions to the most pressing global concerns of our time — including climate change. It embodies New York State’s innovative spirit and commitment to supporting business development as part of our growing green economy and NYSERDA is proud to support this project.”
Acting OGS Commissioner Jeanette Moy said, “The ETEC complex stands out as a model of the great things that can be accomplished when state agencies share resources and work collaboratively. We at OGS are proud of our role in building a more sustainable and resilient New York State and pleased to add this project to the many successes we’ve seen on both campuses.”
Sen. Neil Breslin said, “I am delighted that the ETEC building has finally been completed. When I toured the building earlier this summer, I was awestruck by both the commitment to environmental sustainability and the depth of the programs that will be housed within it. This state-of-the-art building and the programs offered here will encourage even more of the brightest minds to come to Albany to learn and work. Congratulations to the University at Albany and to all of the stakeholders in helping this project succeed.”
Assembly member Patricia Fahy said, “SUNY and UAlbany continue to trailblaze a path forward for the Capital Region and New York in 21st-century climate, extreme weather, and emergency preparedness and response. Not only will the new ETEC complex house the New York State Mesonet, Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, and regional National Weather Service unit, it will also host several colleges, enabling students to receive hands-on training and research experience. This will cement the Capital Region and UAlbany as an emerging leader in climate and weather research and adds to a growing complex of research and academic-based development in and around UAlbany’s Uptown Campus. The future is bright in the Capital Region and at UAlbany because of our powerful partnerships that continue to deliver in massive ways, precisely like this.”
Sen. Michelle Hinchey said, “It is incredibly exciting to see our very own University at Albany expanding its cutting-edge research expertise into the critical areas of climate science, emergency preparedness and cybersecurity. As the climate crisis worsens, New York must be the home base for world-class facilities, like ETEC, that bring our top academic minds and business leaders together to produce the knowledge and technological innovation that will lead to long-term solutions. ETEC is a shining example of a facility set to make the Capital Region a global leader in environmental analysis and emergency preparedness — all while serving as a model for energy-efficient building design that will inform smart development across our state. I cannot wait to see the amazing work that will come out of this trail-blazing complex and will continue to do everything I can to support its vital mission.”
Assembly member John T. McDonald III said, “Congratulations to UAlbany on the opening of their ETEC research and development complex. The Capital Region is the home to industries that are on the forefront of technology and innovation, and this new center will focus on sustainability, developing small businesses, and other research areas that build on the strengths and resources that our region has to offer. UAlbany is building on community partnerships and continuing to work with state partners to advance these ambitious goals, and I appreciate their work and look forward to seeing all of the positive developments that will come from ETEC.”
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said, “Life sciences and high-tech development are two of the Capital Region’s leading industries, and the University at Albany’s new facility capitalizes on that foundation, along with their own strengths in climate science and emergency preparedness, to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face as a local and a global community. Climate change isn’t some obscure concept anymore and we need to be ready for the increasingly destructive impacts of extreme weather events. I want to thank UAlbany and President Rodríguez for being a partner to Albany County in this fight as we develop our own Climate Resiliency Plan and prepare for the future.”
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, “The opening of this state-of-the-art facility is a testament to the commitment of UAlbany and SUNY leadership as Albany continues to lead the way in education, research and technology. ETEC is a collaborative space that benefits students, researchers, and public and private sector partners in their work towards a common goal of improving knowledge and innovation in several fields, including the first-in-the-nation College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity. I am excited to see the byproducts of ETEC and hope its close proximity to New York State government results in developing and implementing policies that will help improve the lives of not only Albany residents but our neighbors across the state and nation.”