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The Treehugger’s Ivory Tower Gets Plantinum LEED

Yale’s high-performance Kroon Hall also pulls off the near-impossible feat of looking at home on a campus with legendary Gothic architecture.

Kroon Hall

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Kroon Hall, the recently completed home of Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, has just been awarded a Platinum LEED–the highest designation offered by the U.S. Green Building Council. That’s a great-big green feather in the school’s cap: While LEED has grown to encompass thousands of buildings, Platinum is still quite rare in developments as big as Kroon, due to the added expense it requires. Solar panels and LEED certified architects don’t come cheap–so it’s pretty awesome to be Yale and have so many rich folks to tap for donations!

Designed by Hopkins Architects, Centerbrook Architects, and Atelier Ten Environmental Designers, the building’s performance stats are impressive: It uses 81% less water and 58% less energy that a typical, comparably sized building. The first is thanks to a system that uses waste water from sinks and showers in the toilets and irrigation system; stormwater is also collected for the later uses, after being collected on the roof and grounds and being filtered by aquatic plants on site.

Meanwhile, much of the energy savings come from the solar panels covering the roof–these provide 25% of the building’s energy needs, despite New Haven’s often-grey weather.

Kroon Hall

But really, what’s kinda remarkable about the building is how well it suits Yale’s Neo-Gothic architecture. It isn’t super-sexy, but it solves problems with aplomb.

Academic buildings are always a difficult challenge: It’s rare that a modern building–much less a green one–fits in so well to such an historic setting. (Just witness Columbia’s hideously bland student center, Lerner Hall.) For example, the roofline manages to integrate the solar panels while being just interesting enough to draw attention away from them. It’s not too wild, just nice looking, so it blends. Meanwhile, the exterior brickwork does a pretty solid job of fusing the modern and classical.

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[Via Centerbrook and Jetson Green]

About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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