Duke University’s Environment Hall Receives LEED Platinum Certification

October 26, 2015

Tim Lucas, 919-613-8084, tdlucas@duke.edu

DURHAM, N.C. – Environment Hall, the 70,000-square-foot home of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, has received LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The five-story, $40 million hall, which opened in 2014, is the first large building on Duke’s campus to be awarded LEED Platinum certification, signifying that it meets or exceeds the highest standards for sustainability and green design.

Located on Circuit Drive on Duke’s West Campus, the hall houses five classrooms, a 105-seat auditorium, 45 private offices, 72 open office spaces, a 32-seat computer lab, a gallery space and outdoor courtyard, as well as conference rooms, shared workrooms and common areas. 

Its green features include:

  • Photovoltaic rooftop panels that can provide up to 9 percent of the building’s total energy needs;
  • Solar thermal panels to provide domestic hot water;
  • Energy-efficient chilled beam heating and cooling in offices and work areas;
  • An interior, south-facing thermal corridor that reduces energy use by providing a natural layer of insulation between work spaces and the exterior;
  • A green roof, designed to be planted with water-wise plants and irrigated with rainwater;
  • Exterior architectural details that block hot sunlight while allowing in maximum natural light;
  • An automated monitoring system that senses and communicates environmental conditions and energy use, allowing near-real-time adjustments to reduce energy consumption;
  • Insulated, double-paned windows, many of which open automatically to allow in natural ventilation when outdoor conditions are favorable;
  • 100 percent Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood in the building’s interior;
  • Two separate water-recycling systems to reduce runoff and provide non-potable water;
  • Architectural details to reduce bird-window collisions;
  • An air-to-air energy recovery air handling unit to help dehumidify the building and reduce the energy needed to heat or cool it;
  • Recycling of more than 95 percent of all construction waste.

The landscaping and site design of Environment Hall meet the guidelines of the Sustainable Sites Initiative, a national sustainability effort similar to the LEED rating system.

Groundbreaking for Environment Hall took place on April 20, 2012.  Payette, a Boston-based architecture firm, designed the building.  Duke Facilities Management managed and oversaw its construction.

Environment Hall is among 32 buildings on Duke’s campus that have earned LEED certification. Two other buildings at the Nicholas School - the Marguerite Kent Repass Ocean Conservation Center at the Duke Marine Lab and the Orrin H. Pilkey Research Laboratory, also at the Marine Lab, are also LEED Platinum certified. 

Photo by Scottee Cantrell