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Chou Hall at the University of California at Berkeley, Haas School of Business, Achieves LEED Platinum Certification

Connie & Kevin Chou Hall at the University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business has earned LEED Platinum Certification, the highest recognition from the U.S. Green Building Council for sustainability excellence. Designed by Perkins+Will in collaboration with the building’s donor, Dean, faculty, staff, and students, Chou Hall creates bright, welcoming spaces that encourage collaboration and innovation.

“The environmentally conscious and sustainable design of Chou Hall, combined with our efforts to achieve TRUE Zero Waste Certification and pursue WELL Certification, led to the great honor of being named the greenest academic building in the country," says Courtney Chandler, chief strategy & operating officer at Haas. "In many ways, this beautiful building reflects the school's vision of true business leadership: It's high-performing, environmentally responsible, and designed for state-of-the-art learning."

Integration into the Neighborhood

Chou Hall integrates with ease into the existing Haas and Berkeley campus, allowing for convenient access to transportation and campus amenities. This welcoming building connects users to the natural environment with views to the surrounding redwood grove, campus, and San Francisco across the Bay. Chou Hall references its historic site conditions, including the Strawberry Creek bed and the campus’s iconic riparian corridor, by embracing the site topography as part of the building experience. Entrances on the lower level and courtyard level are linked by a two-story atrium. Convivial outdoor terraces animate social life at both entrances, and the Think Café with its beautiful setting and sustainable offerings brings people together from across the University.

Building Performance

Chou Hall’s users have access to abundant daylight and natural ventilation, reducing the need for electric lighting and lowering energy demand. The heating and cooling system is separated from the ventilation system to allow for optimized equipment and occupant control. A dedicated outdoor air system (DOAS) and a chilled beam system provide efficient environmental control. Exterior sun shading mitigates solar heat gain, helping to maintain thermal comfort while managing glare. A 75 kW photovoltaic system shades the roof terrace and generates 113,500-kilowatt hours of renewable of energy on site, off-setting approximately 25 percent of total building electricity use.
Water is carefully managed both inside and outside the building. The landscape slows and treats stormwater; inside the building, demand for potable water is optimized with highly efficient fixtures. Potable water use is further reduced by diverting rainwater to a cistern, and then used to flush toilets.

The project recently earned TRUE Zero Waste certification – the first for a business school, and is currently pursuing WELL Standard certification to further demonstrate commitment to creating an optimal educational environment, occupant, and planetary health.

“Our strategy for Chou Hall’s exceptional building performance relies on harnessing the natural systems present at the site. The building takes advantage of the mild Bay Area climate, a perfect place to benefit from natural ventilation and daylight. The sloped site, in a mixed live oak and redwood grove and nearby dry creek bed, invites the building to celebrate the natural environment throughout the space for the whole community,” says Rebecca Holt, Perkins+Will’s Senior Sustainable Building Advisor and sustainability specialist for Chou Hall.

Health and Well-Being

Chou Hall respects health and supports wellness for students, faculty, staff, and the planet. Throughout the building, biophilic design elements connect users to the natural environment. Natural systems and diurnal rhythms play central roles in human health and well-being and in response, large operable windows bring in natural light and fresh air while providing stunning views of both the riparian corridor and the city and Bay beyond. Additionally, through the strategic use of wood paneling, millwork, and exposed concrete walls, Chou Hall projects an inviting sense of warmth and beauty.

To create and preserve a natural aesthetic, the design team used interior finishes strategically; this allows students, faculty, staff, and visitors to readily see, understand, and appreciate the building’s architectural details. The use of highly durable materials ensures that fewer materials will need replacing, and less waste will be produced over the life of the building. Furthermore, all materials were screened for chemicals of concern using the Perkins+Will Precautionary List.

“Our work relied on an understanding of the Haas community and their values and goals,” says John Long, principal at Perkins+Will and project manager of the design team. “The collaborative team approach helped to create a building that embodies the school’s ambitious commitment to student achievement, well-being, and the environment.”