For GE, staying at the forefront of renewable energy research is such a priority that the company has invested $6 billion in that effort. The nation's top-selling wind-turbine company, GE has plans to build the largest 400-megawatt thin-film solar-panel factory in the country by 2013. The company's LEED Silver renewable energy headquarters building in Schenectady, New York, stands as a significant commitment to the growing success of its renewable energy division. It is also an investment in the community, its workforce, and the 628-acre, 120-year-old campus'a mix of manufacturing and administration buildings that hadn't seen a significant architectural project since the 1990s.
Taking advantage of its own resources, the company charged the Albany-based EYP Architecture & Engineering to adapt Building 53, an aging, century-old concrete factory, into a new headquarters to centralize executive, administrative, and engineering divisions for wind and solar power, and house a remote operation center that would contain monitoring and diagnostic capabilities for worldwide wind energy uses. 'GE wanted the building to communicate a sense of purpose about the company's goals'harnessing the wind and projecting their commitment to innovation,' says Matthew O'Grady, EYP senior designer. So the architects opened the old structure, adding a glazed atrium equipped with interactive kiosks to inform visitors and employees. Its transparency reveals the inner workings of the building to the public and lets them view its key energy-related activities. An adjacent Renewables Operation Center ('The ROC') features a system that keeps track of solar and wind-turbine activity round-the-clock.