The Commission for Environmental Cooperation reported that US buildings consume 65% of the country’s electricity, 12% of its drinkable water, and 40% of all raw materials. Here at Johns Hopkins, though, buildings account for over 90% of our energy and greenhouse gas emissions, and over 80% of our water consumption. In addition, buildings are where we live, learn, study, work, and eat, so they must be designed with exceptional attention to detail and must address health and productivity issues as well as environmental ones. To help guide our Architectural and Engineering staff, as well as outside contractors and vendors, the Office of Sustainability produced a High Performance Building Guidelines resource in 2014, as outlined as part of the Climate Change Implementation Plan. Given that the latest codes of design and construction are pushed to a higher level of energy performance, the JHU guidelines are now similar to code and requirements. Regardless, these guidelines and original ideas are still utilized in construction projects.
Another measure for green buildings is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard. Administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, the LEED rating system is an international green building program that rates buildings on their environmental performance, and JHU requires a minimum of LEED Silver equivalent for new construction.
Completed LEED Projects at Hopkins include:
Johns Hopkins University incorporates green building features in its new construction and renovation efforts, with special attention to measures that improve energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor air quality, and work environment (such as increasing natural daylighting and reducing VOCs). From an energy perspective, Hopkins typically designs for high efficiency in new construction and renovations. An energy efficiency engineer evaluates energy systems and performs ongoing commissioning. The University also incorporates energy efficiency into capital and deferred maintenance planning to provide a long range outlook into possible upcoming projects. Another initiative the University has instituted is an Maintenance, Repair, and Operations (MRO) program in which purchases and contracts are grouped into a University plan which allows for cohesion throughout Hopkins with certain vendors and what they provide. Additionally, the High-Performance and Healthy Buildings Working Group operating out of the Sustainability Leadership Council makes recommendations to reduce energy consumption and promote wellness in built structures across campus.
As a premier research institution, Johns Hopkins has a significant amount of laboratory space critical to the school’s mission, but this space also consumes a disproportionate amount of resources. Laboratories and similar research areas are dense with equipment, and have greater needs for fresh air circulation. Consequently, labs typically account for 70% of the institution’s carbon footprint and use four times more energy per square foot than other university spaces.
Our newest laboratory space, The Undergraduate Research Laboratories, is a 105,000 square foot, four-story building equipped with the latest lab technology to accommodate a variety of teaching methods and synergies between cross-disciplinary partnerships. Behind the scenes, it is an exemplar of resource conservation, using technologies such as heat recovery wheels to recycle the energy in the air exhausted from the space, chilled beams and radiant heating to heat and cool the space as efficiently as possible and in a modular fashion, as well as vacuum pumps in place of water created vacuums to reduce water use. These and other innovations helped the building reach LEED Platinum Certification.
One of the first actions of the Sustainability Leadership Council‘s Operations Subcommittee was to develop the Green Labs Working Group. Beginning in 2019, this working group was tasked with developing an initiative to reduce energy use and waste in lab spaces, incentivize efficient equipment, and recognize labs for their efforts.