Northwestern achieves first platinum LEED certification for Kresge Hall


Alec Carroll/The Daily Northwestern

Kresge Hall, 1880 Campus Drive, reopened after two years of renovations. The building obtained LEED platinum certification.

Julia Esparza, Reporter

The recently renovated Kresge Hall is the first building at Northwestern to receive the highest level LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, awarded to buildings for their achievements in sustainability.

Developers planned Kresge’s renovation with the platinum certification in mind, SustainNU director Kathia Benitez said.

“New construction impacts our carbon footprint, so by updating old buildings and incorporating energy efficient features in our new buildings, we move closer to our goal of a greener campus,” Benitez said.

Due to the renovation, which began in August 2014 and cost about $58 million, Kresge now includes a rooftop solar panel, self-adjusting ceiling lights with daylight sensors and the highest grade insulation. Benitez said bike racks and showers encourage faculty and staff to bike to work.

With these new features, Kresge earned 86 points on a 110-point scale, according to SustainNU’s website, becoming the first building on campus to achieve platinum status.

The building council ranks buildings’ sustainability measures under four categories: certified, silver, gold or platinum. To receive the highest rating, buildings must earn at least 80 points.

To become LEED-certified, the council considers factors like the amount of recycled materials used, energy efficiency and air quality of a building, according to its website. NU currently has 11 LEED-certified buildings and is “well-positioned” to increase that number, said Elena Romero-Jensen, Facilities Management’s Kresge project manager.

The Kellogg School of Management Global Hub and 560 Lincoln are undergoing the LEED certification process, Romero-Jensen added. She said all new construction and large renovation projects must at least meet the silver certification standards.

Romero-Jensen said the University expects the Global Hub to earn NU’s second platinum certification.

SustainNU, Facilities Management and Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences faculty collaborated to discuss Kresge’s functionality and sustainability, Romero-Jensen said. Because Kresge houses many departments, most students will take a class in the building during their time at NU, she said.

Manager of sustainability communication Stephanie Folk said Kresge’s sustainability and functionality measures complement each other.

“We are working on issues on how to manage our campus and how we use our resources,” she said. “Kresge’s energy efficiency was a huge part of the progress.”

Benitez said NU is working to become net-zero energy by 2050, meaning the amount of energy used on campus is equal to the amount produced. Kresge is helping NU reach that goal, she said.

“We really stretched the envelope with Kresge, pushing to improve its energy efficiency and making it a functional space for students and staff,” Benitez said.

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Twitter: @juliaesparza10