French Family Science Center

The French Family Science Center, named for the family of Duke alumnae and trustee Melinda French Gates, houses laboratories and classrooms for numerous departments and disciplines.  The building opened in August of 2006.

View the French Family Science Center's LEED™ Scorecard


Sustainable Site Features

This large research and teaching complex was designed to fit into a tight space in the center of campus, increasing density rather than building on a peripheral greenfield site.  15,000-square-feet of green roofs mitigate the building's physical footprint and reduce stormwater run-off. Bicycle racks are conveniently located around the building for up to 120 bicycles.


Water Efficiency

Use of waterless urinals, and low-flow sinks reduces water usage by 51%. The building's 15,000 square feet of green roofs help to absorb rainwater, reducing run-off and improving watershed quality.


Energy Efficiency

Occupancy sensors control energy efficient lighting throughout the building.  275 windows were treated with an energy efficiency glaze to limit solar heat and reflective louvers (passive solar features that reflect or deflect direct glare) are employed to bounce natural daylight into the building. Use of a white coating on the building's roof reduces the energy needed for indoor cooling by 41%. 

The most innovative features of the French Family Science Center involve the complex mechanical systems common in research-intensive lab buildings.  249 low-flow fume hoods operate at 80 fpm and are arranged throughout the building to permit heat recovery systems that capture energy from the exhaust air stream and use it to pre-heat (or pre-cool) the incoming air.


Resource Management

94% of all the new wood in the building is Forest Stewardship Council certified.  More than 50% of construction debris was recycled.


Integration of Sustainability in Design & Construction Process

Town hall meetings were held during design and construction to foster communication between the multiple departments occupying the building.  The adoption of sustainability objectives into the campus master plan and building standards helped to steer design.  Flexibility was a central theme in the buildings design and construction that has important connections to sustainability. 

Laboratory spaces were intermixed and designed to accommodate two or more research groups, with faculty offices grouped together, to encourage interaction between disciplines. Shared laboratory space was located so as to allow flexible use of the building as the nature and demands of research changes.