UIC Business School Building Earns Gold LEED Certification

Douglas Hall earned praise for the renovation that advanced it from 1960s Brutalism to 21st century corporate — a streamlined look with state-of-the-art facilities suitable for the home of the College of Business Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Now the building has plaudits from environmentalists as well. Douglas Hall has received a gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, the second-highest rating awarded by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council. LEED certification is the internationally recognized verification that a building is environmentally responsible, profitable and a healthy place in which to live and work.

Douglas Hall is the second UIC building to win the gold, following the 2010 renovation of nearby Lincoln Hall. The University of Illinois Board of Trustees has determined that all new construction and renovation will be designed to achieve at least a silver LEED designation, said Mark Donovan, vice chancellor for administrative services.

The benefits of designing to LEED standards include:

  • reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions
  • conserving energy and water
  • reducing waste sent to landfills
  • creating a healthier and safer environment for occupants
  • lowering operating costs and increasing asset value
  • qualifying for tax rebates, zoning allowances, and other incentives.

“Leveraging the ‘triple bottom line’ — profits, people and the planet — has become a core value of business in the 21st century, and one that we instill through our curriculum,” said Michael B. Mikhail, dean of the business college. “To teach that in classrooms that reflect the concept sends a strong message to our students about the importance of sustainability.”

Douglas Hall’s sustainability comes from geothermal wells, solar panels, automated interior lights, water savers, and automated cooling, heating and window shades. The floors are made of low-maintenance recycled rubber. Landscaping is designed to optimize energy use, and the building is cleaned with green products.

The building’s teaching facilities include a mock trading room, boardroom, collaboration hubs, conference and breakout rooms, and state-of-the-art technology for long-distance learning. Amenities include a cafe and a corporate-style reception area.

Donovan noted that the building was finished on time, within budget, and with equal consideration for end users and facility management.

“The college had a clear vision of its needs for its academic program. Business education in Chicago is very competitive,” he said.

The design by The Architects Enterprise Ltd. called for the 25,200-square-foot building to be gutted and for its concrete-and-glass exterior to be removed, while retaining the lines that characterize Walter Netsch’s original design for east campus buildings.

The renovation was funded by student fees and gifts from individual and corporate donors. The solar panels were funded in part by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

Work will begin next summer on green renovation of four other campus buildings, Donovan said.

[Note: Photos for download at http://newsphoto.lib.uic.edu/v/douglas/]

UIC ranks among the nation’s leading research universities and is Chicago’s largest university with 27,500 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world.