Sustainable Buildings

Each of the 114 buildings that make up the University of Chicago campus require electricity, heating, cooling, cleaning and maintenance. Emissions resulting from the operation and maintenance of these buildings represent in large measure our carbon footprint as an institution.

To help reduce these emissions, the University’s Sustainable Building Policy requires all new campus and medical center buildings with a budget of more than $5 million be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The USGBC’s internationally-recognized LEED certification aims to improve building performance across a number of significant metrics, including energy efficiency, water efficiency, waste reduction and indoor environmental quality.

Of course, at the University of Chicago, these initiatives must reflect our own singular culture of systematic research. That involves asking key questions up front, such as, “What is the experience we want people to have in this building?" or "What needs are central to the building’s occupants?" Considering the answers to these questions enables us to integrate sustainability features in a way that’s meaningful for the people who will live. study, teach or work in our buildings.

The University has achieved LEED Gold Certification for commercial interiors of the renovated 6045 S. Kenwood Ave. Building (90,591 square feet). The renovated Searle Chemistry Laboratory (90,236 square feet) also has received LEED Gold Certification — a significant accomplishment given the high energy-intensity of laboratory buildings.