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Sanders Physics


Since its founding in 1861, Vassar has always considered science an essential part of its curriculum; the Vassar Brothers Laboratory built in 1880 was the first separate lab for scientific use built at a women’s college. When Henry Sanders (Board of Trustees 1895-1910, Chairman of Board 1911-13) died in 1921 he left the college $150,000 to build a physics building in his name. Sanders physics, finished in 1926, continued Vassar’s tradition of scientific excellence with its state of the art equipment and facilities. Sanders Physics is currently home to the Departments of Physics, Astronomy, Computer Science.

The Renovation

The recent renovations to Sanders Physics pulled off the impressive/magical feat of increasing the usable space within the building by 4,634 square feet without expanding the building envelope. This additional space was captured by converting the third floor storage-attic into classrooms, a conference room, lounge, and faculty offices. As in New England HVAC, a heat energy recovery system, efficient lighting, and room occupancy sensors have resulted 23% less energy use and an annual monetary savings of 17% ($/yr).

Careful selection of local plant species robust enough to survive the heat and drought stresses that climate change is likely to bring, as well as the installation of water conserving watering technology-- drip irrigation and rain sensors--have reduced the amount of potable water by 36%. Water saving alterations will save 45,000 gallons per year.

80% (631,066 tons) of the waste generated during the construction of Sanders was diverted from landfill. Additionally, both Sanders Physics and New England have been fitted with CO2 meters to monitor indoor air quality.