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Green Building


Princeton's campus design standards include sustainability guidelines as well as expectations that all new projects and major renovations will achieve significant energy cost reductions versus comparable off-campus buildings. These standards require a series of stringent Life Cycle Cost Analyses (LCCA) to evaluate sustainable features that maximize building energy and sustainability performance. As a result, many projects typically include strategies for envelope upgrades, energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, upgraded lighting, sophisticated building controls, and low-flow plumbing fixtures.

Goal, Strategies & Progress

Increase building efficiency and sustainability performance.

Strategy: Increase building efficiency in new construction and major renovation projects using LCCA, including a CO2 tax, as a major influence in decision making. Strive for LEED Silver equivalency wherever applicable.

Progress: LCCA studies informed decision-making processes in selecting several of the following sustainability elements in recent new construction and renovation projects: 

New Construction:

As the needs of the University grow, so does the demand on its existing building stock. By strategically planning and building new state-of-the-art facilities, the University is able to increase building efficiencies through an integrative design process. This approach also frees up existing buildings for future renovation. Below are some of the more unique strategies employed on current projects:

  • New graduate housing at the Hibben-Magie site: Planners for this redevelopment will be seeking Silver certification under LEED for Homes (Lowrise and Midrise).
  • High-Performance Computing Research Center: This facility, slated for completion in 2011, is designed to save 33 percent more energy than the previous computing center with a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.5. It will feature an energy-efficient cogeneration system that will provide both power and cooling via an innovative pairing of gas engine and absorption chiller; heat recovery; free cooling when outdoor air conditions permit; a high level of detailed energy monitoring; and the capability for fully automated operation.
  • Neuroscience and Psychology Buildings: These structures, scheduled to be finished in spring 2013, will include natural lighting; automatic dimming controls; a stormwater reclamation system for nonpotable use; an energy-efficient HVAC system featuring multiple heat recovery technologies and active chilled beams for cooling; and a high-performance exterior façade featuring outer ribbed glass sunscreen and inner high-performance glass.
  • Andlinger Laboratory: The first step of a four-year process to build this new complex was completed in summer 2011. It will feature building massing and design efficiencies to locate offices with ample access to daylight; glazed interior partition walls that allow for daylight penetration; portions of buildings located below grade to minimize heating/cooling loads; exterior solar shade; an energy-efficient HVAC system featuring heat recovery, radiant panels and cascading airflow (from office to lab); stormwater and condensate storage and reuse systems; and green roofs to enhance stormwater management.

Major Renovations:

Existing buildings account for a large percentage of the University's carbon footprint. Renovating the aging systems within these buildings is a way to use the University's resources more wisely and to create a better environment for those who work there. Below are some of the more unique strategies employed on current major renovations:

  • Jadwin Hall: This renovation is designed to reduce energy costs by 45 percent compared to the original building. An energy-efficient HVAC system features heat recovery and chilled beams. The project also involves energy-efficient lighting, window replacement and reuse of existing building furniture.
  • Firestone Library: This 10-year renovation project features an energy-efficient HVAC system including heat recovery and chilled beams; energy-efficient lighting strategies tested for mass rollout throughout the library stacks; and new skylight glazing to reduce heat loss. Building finishes will be upgraded using sustainable products and, in some cases, refurbishing existing finishes to maintain the period look in signature spaces.

Strategy: Build internal expertise to ensure consistent application of Sustainable Building Guidelines across all projects.


  • The University is committed to continuing education for its staff. As an authorized U.S. Green Building Council Education Provider, the University's Facilities Organization has offered more than 30 hours of sustainability-related continuing education credits over the past two years. In addition to education for LEED credentialing maintenance, the organization has offered more in-depth coursework on Princeton-based solutions for elements such as stormwater management, water conservation and energy management.
  • About 30 staff members in the offices of design and construction, facilities engineering, grounds and building maintenance, and the Office of the University Architect are currently LEED-Accredited Professionals.

What's Next

Short Term

  • Evaluate the pilot of continuous post-occupancy building system performance in Frick Chemistry Laboratory and adjust building parameters as necessary. 
  • Test new materials (such as finishes) and processes (such as coordinated construction material recycling) in small renovations.
  • Refine furniture reuse and recycling programs. 
  • Roll out updated Sustainable Building Guidelines in the March 2012 release of the Facilities Design Standards Manual, including refinements to construction waste management practices and electronic document management systems to reduce paper usage.
  • Continue to apply the University's 95 percent construction debris recycling policy to projects, and explore synergies between University services and large-scale job sites collecting household recyclables.

Long Term

  • Continue to apply LCCA to the development of major projects, as well as minor projects where appropriate. Continue to assemble an LCCA case library and apply accumulated LCCA knowledge to the development of building projects.
  • Continue to refine Sustainable Building Guidelines (e.g., continue to target a 95 percent recycling goal on large projects and utilize a greater percentage of more sustainable materials) to maximize energy and sustainability performance.
  • Explore updating energy modeling guidelines in the Design Standards Manual to better capture smaller renovated buildings.

The new High-Performance Computing Research Center has been designed to replace select existing less efficient centers on campus, and also will take full advantage of server virtualization — consolidating applications and services running on individual physical machines onto fewer, more powerful servers.

"One of the guiding principles of the High-Performance Computing Research Center project was to make sound design decisions based on total cost of ownership and sound architectural and engineering practices. Through smart design decisions, careful planning and effective execution, the building is also currently tracking LEED Silver with the potential of Gold certification without incurring additional project costs."
Alan Mougey, owner's representative, CS Technology, the project manager for the High-Performance Computing Research Center program


Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED): an internationally recognized green building certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council; Princeton has created its own Sustainable Building Guidelines to augment this benchmark for "LEED equivalency."

Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA): A method for analyzing the total cost of facility ownership over a specified number of years (at Princeton, it's usually 30 years).

Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE): The ratio of total facility power to computing equipment power (ideal is 1.0).


Lesson Learned

Laboratory buildings are very distinct from residential or administrative buildings in terms of energy use and the strategies for minimizing that use. As such, we have learned to set different performance expectations for each.