Duke's Sustainable Buildings

Duke University has a unique building style on campus that integrates its historical Gothic and Georgian architecture with modern design. This design style has evolved over time from the Duke Chapel and Duke’s East Campus to the Brodhead Center and the Environment Hall. Regardless of the design style, sustainability is incorporated from the glass and steel that make the walls, to the bike racks that are close to doors, to the trees that surround the entire building.

Photo of Duke's Environment Hall
Duke University's Environment Hall

 

Duke follows Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards, with the goal of LEED Silver for all new construction and renovations. As of July 2017, Duke has over 41 buildings on campus that are LEED certified and 7 buildings registered for certification. This represents 31% of the university's total square footage.

Green Building: Past, Present, and Future

In 1993, Duke adopted its first Design Guidelines, which contained elements of sustainable design. This guideline has been updated over the past couple decades to include language that promotes LEED guidelines and life cycle cost analysis.

Some examples of sustainable building on campus includes French Family Science Center (LEED Silver), School of Nursing (LEED Silver), Duke Lemur Center (LEED Silver), East Campus Steam Plant (LEED Gold), Marine Lab’s Pilkey Research Laboratory (LEED Gold), and Environment Hall (LEED Platinum).

Photo of the Orrin Pilkey Laboratory
Photo of the Orrin Pilkey Laboratory at the Duke University Marine Lab.

Into the future, Duke will continue to affirm its commitment to sustainable building on campus with the goal to push above and beyond LEED standards.

Sustainable Building 101

Sustainable design on campus helps Duke reduce energy and water use, builds community within and around buildings, fosters healthy ecosystems locally, and saves money for Duke University.

From the planning of the building to cutting the ribbon on opening day, Duke considers how sustainability can be incorporated.

When siting the building, Duke aims to preserve Duke’s natural landscapes and minimize environmental impact from tree protection zones during construction to planting native species after construction concludes.

With Duke’s goal of 30% energy use reduction in new construction and major renovations compared to a baseline building, selection of materials such as locally sourced wood and high-efficiency lighting and equipment is of utmost importance.

Sustainable building goes beyond the materials used to construct the buildings to include the human experience. This means the natural light that floods work and study spaces, open common areas to foster community, trees and greenery to express the relationship between people and nature, and bike racks to encourage sustainable commuting.

Photo of Duke's Brodhead Center for Student Life
Interior of Duke's Brodhead Center for Student Life

Campus Initiatives

Sustainable construction is only one part of the sustainability of buildings on campus. People living and working in those buildings also play a major role in the successfulness of Duke. Sustainable Duke has created a number of programs to leverage the power of the campus community to help Duke meet its climate neutrality commitment.

Green Certification

graph of sustainability certification engagement in fiscal year 2017
The above graphic shows the impact of Sustainable Duke's certifications on campus.

For those who want to take sustainability to the next level in their workplace, lab, classroom, or dorm, Sustainable Duke has created a Green Certification program. This program provides a checklist of actions that you can take to make the space you live and work more sustainable. Below is a list of these programs with additional resources.

Sustainability Signs

To help remind people around campus about sustainability practices, Sustainable Duke has developed signs that are placed all around campus. These signs provide reminders to turn off lights, use less water, and recycle. If you would like to add some of these signs to your workplace, please contact Sustainable Duke at sustainability@duke.edu