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Inside Look: Sustainable campus buildings

Expectations of energy efficiency and green facilities features
University Business, September 2015
  • Green dining: West Side Dining at New York’s Stony Brook University is a 40,000-square-foot, $14.5 million building completed in July 2013. It feeds up to 400 with six dining platforms that function as mini-restaurants—all with green cooking features. Most commercial kitchen hoods operate at 100 percent capacity all day, even during non-cooking periods. But Stony Brook’s automated vent-hood system modulates fans based on the heat load and can result in up to 50 percent energy savings.
  • Stony Brook: Other features that led to West Side Dining’s LEED Silver certification include, a white bitumen asphalt roof, low-e coating on the building’s outer wall to decrease sun exposure, waterless urinals, the use of recycled building materials, diverted construction waste and water-efficient landscaping. Architect: KSQ Architects (Tulsa, Okla.)
  • The University of Connecticut incorporated biodegradable materials such as natural paints when renovating the McMahon Dining Hall, which opened in September 2012. The project team also selected flooring products and adhesives that eliminate indoor air pollution and decompose naturally without causing contamination. Green construction materials used included steel beams made from recycled metal. Certified LEED Gold, the $7.1 million facility is 14,000 square feet, and the renovation included all new kitchen
  • Recycled materials: Salem College in North Carolina kept sustainability and preservation top-of-mind when designing its 15,000-square-foot Student Center, the campus’ first new building since 1982. Opened in May 2014, the $6 million LEED Silver complex was built with 40 percent regionally sourced materials, such as handmade brick and clay roof tiles. And the copper, carpets, and floor and wall tile have high recycled content. A hemlock tree cut down for construction provided lumber for the tables in the caf
  • The mechanical systems at Salem College’s Student Center were designed for improved performance, resulting in a projected 22 percent savings of energy and cost, compared to a typical new building. Dual-flush toilets and low-flow faucets reduced projected water usage. Architect-of-record and interior design: LAMBERT Architecture + Interiors (Winston-Salem, N.C.); Structural engineer: Engineered Concepts (Greensboro, N.C.); General contractor: Frank L Blum Construction (Winston-Salem, N.C.) (Photo: R H Wilson
  • Multipurpose green roofs: Housing three colleges, a chapel, event space, dining venues and study areas, the $78.4 million Wedgewood Academic Center at Tennessee’s Belmont University is the largest building on campus. The 186,000-square-foot structure was certified LEED Platinum after its August 2014 opening.
  • A combination of vegetated and highly reflective roofing saves energy, reduces the heat given off by the building and manages stormwater runoff at Belmont University’s Wedgewood Academic Center. The green roof is being used for educational purposes by botany lab students. Chilled beams, water source heat pumps and variable-refrigerant-flow heat pumps reduced energy use by 38 percent compared to a traditional building. The building’s efficient lighting system consists of LED fixtures and integrated controls.
  • Platinum president’s house: At the time it was built in September 2008, Unity House at Unity College in Maine was the first college president’s residence in the country—and one of only 200 residences nationwide—to earn a LEED Platinum certification. The 1,930-square-foot, $450,000 house sits on a concrete pad that retains heat in the winter and helps cool the house during summer. Photovoltaic solar cells on the roof produce energy while the windows provide passive solar heating. High-efficiency appliances a
  • Reformulated residence halls: Both the existing and the new produced sustainable solutions when Texas Christian University built the $37.5 million LEED Gold Pamela and Edward Clark and Marion Hall, completed in August 2013. The 400-suite residence hall featured adaptations to TCU’s standard design features, including the lighting and the updated, energy-efficient roof tiles. (Photo: Melissa Lukenbaugh)
  • Interior features Pamela and Edward Clark and Marion Hall—such as LED lighting and highly efficient plumbing fixtures—surpass LEED's standard by 24 percent, with the latter reducing water use by over 40 percent. The interior has wood-look floors, porcelain tile accents and granite counters. Common areas and study lounges have many high windows to let in natural light. Architects: KSQ Architects (Tulsa, Okla.) and Beardsley Design Associates (Auburn, N.Y.)  (Photo: Melissa Lukenbaugh)
  • Climate response: Opened in July 2014, Oregon Health & Science University’s Collaborative Life Sciences Building is certified LEED Platinum. Water collected from the roof provides nonpotable water for toilets. Energy-related features include high-efficiency lighting, a tuned building envelope that responds to the climate, heat recovery from the atrium, and low-ventilation fume hoods. In addition, an innovative material reuse strategy during construction included salvaging oil-drilling pipes for foundation p
  • Inside the Collaborative Life Sciences Building, suspended walkways in the glass atrium of the upper floors are supported by slender,high “tree” columns. The walkways enable efficient circulation among areas and allow for critical casual conversation and collaboration on landings equipped with seating areas. The site design features light-pollution reduction, stormwater management and green roofs. Design architect/interior designer: CO Architects (Los Angeles); Executive architect: SERA Architects (Portland
  • Green reading: The Frederick E. Berry Library & Learning Commons at Salem State University in Massachusetts has several sustainable features that earned it LEED Gold, including a geothermal system that provides heated or cooled water to heat exchangers in the building’s mechanical penthouse. Opened in August 2013, the $61 million, 128,000-square-foot facility has seating areas arrayed along the north- and west-facing high-performance walls, which maximize the use of natural light.  Architect: Shepley Bulfin
  • A thermal envelope: This $17 million, five-story, 150-student residence hall overlooking the Genesee River and University of Rochester’s River Campus opened in Fall 2012 to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Certified LEED Gold, O’Brien Hall—named after the New York university’s eighth president—is built with an extensive insulation system called a “thermal envelope.” High-performance insulation foam in the walls and ceilings reduces the amount of energy needed to heat and cool the building. Ceiling-high wind

Adding green and sustainable elements to facilities during new construction and renovations is no longer an option for colleges and universities—it’s the expectation.

“Sustainability is increasingly becoming the standard for construction and master planning in higher ed,” says Monika Urbanski, STARS program analyst with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Officials at individual campuses and large university systems have established green building policies and standards for minimum LEED-certification levels.

With the variety of building types on a college campus, there are several opportunities to make any space efficient. Dining facilities can incorporate energy-efficient kitchen equipment and convenient composting and recycling spots. Residence halls can have plumbing that uses less water, and features such as plants and even vegetative walls can increase indoor air quality.

Sustainably designed facilities can be nice to look at—and to live and work within. “Aesthetics and sustainability are very complementary to each other,” Urbanski says. “Not only do these elements create a better quality of life for the occupants, they’re often ergonomic and more comfortable.”

Higher ed institutions also focus more closely on what happens after a building opens, Urbanski says.

Monitoring systems help track energy efficiency and can spot problem areas, such as inefficient windows. They also help building users to want to do their part to keep energy use down.

Green projects also present valuable learning opportunities for students, who help design energy-efficient buildings and contribute to the green certification process. Elements such as vegetative roofs, for instance, serve a dual purpose—collecting and draining stormwater, and enhancing the science curriculum.

“Colleges are uniquely positioned to engage all members of the campus community by creating partnerships and initiatives that result in a more sustainable environment,” Urbanski says.

The images above highlight the interior views and the impact of green campus buildings.