Berkeley Business School Hall Hailed as Greenest Academic Building

By Roxanne Squires

BERKELEY, Calif. — Connie & Chou Hall, a state-of-the-art learning laboratory for Berkeley Haas Business School students, is officially the country’s greenest academic building, having earned TRUE Zero Waste certification at the highest possible level — along with a LEED Platinum certification for its energy efficient design and operation.

The student-focused space was designed to enhance learning, foster community and allow the school to provide a world-class education to current and future students.

Designed with LEED and WELL standards, the project features environmentally conscious construction, 40 percent reduction in water use, and 38 percent improved energy efficiency. It includes eight tiered classrooms, four flat classrooms, 27 group study rooms, a cafe, and a large event space on the sixth floor.

The Haas School’s  Zero Wave Initiative is a shared effort between a multidisciplinary team of both graduate and undergraduate students, Cal Zero Waste, Haas faculty and staff, facilities management, and building vendors to ensure that building operations are designed to succeed in waste diversion.

The facility earned the TRUE Platinum Zero Waste certification after more than a year of committing to waste sorting, composting and other efforts to divert over 90 percent of Chou’s landfill waste.

The U.S. Green Building Council conducted an on-site audit of the six-story, 80,000-square-foot laboratory — allocating earned points in water efficiency, energy use, construction materials used, indoor environmental quality, and design innovation. Haas is also pursuing a third designation, WELL certification, given to buildings that promote user health and well-being.

The hall earned 85 points, granting the facility LEED Platinum certification for its architectural design, construction and functioning of the building.

The hall earned credits through everything from composting food scraps to tracking the purchase of environmentally preferred products, to providing employees with access to zero-waste training to reducing the use of hazardous waste chemicals.

The zero-waste certification process began as soon as Connie & Kevin Chou Hall opened to students in August 2017, with a goal to move toward zero waste by 2020.

In August 2018, Haas participated in its third week-long TRUE Zero Waste audit, which is a strenuous, hands-on effort that requires separating compostable items from recyclable items.

The team applied auditing data to make more zero-waste adjustments and recommendations, including working with Café Think and the Evening & Weekend MBA program to change student snack offerings to bulk items; implementing a program to donate Café Think’s coffee grounds to UC Berkeley’s Gill Tract Farm for garden compost, and replacing the bathrooms’ one-roll toilet paper dispensers with two-roll dispensers to conserve toilet paper, according to Berkeley Haas newsroom.

Doud-Martin, the staff lead of the Haas Zero Waste Initiative and associate director of the International Business Development (IBD) Program at Haas, said the next phase will be to support a shift from recycling and composting toward reusing or reducing single-use items.

Doud-Martin believes that ultimately, the shift will align them with more a true zero-waste model.  

Perkins+Will designed this facility as the lead architect and Vance Brown Builders as the general contractors.

Reports from the Berkeley Newsroom contributed to this story.