Columbia Business School and The Square Earn LEED Gold Certification for New Buildings in Manhattanville

October 18, 2022

Columbia University continued the trend of sustainable new construction with its new Business School buildings, Henry R. Kravis and David Geffen Halls, and The Square, a one-acre public green space, which combined were awarded LEED® Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the foremost green building certification program that measures how sustainable a building development is in areas including energy, water efficiency, material selection, and indoor air quality. 

The project earned a LEED Gold for New Construction rating by utilizing a wide range of sustainable construction and design strategies, from leveraging site advantages to optimizing energy performance, improving indoor air quality, and more. Highlights include: 

  • Low-VOC materials, increased ventilation, and outdoor air monitoring ensure indoor environmental quality. 

  • Materials comprised of 25 percent recycled content from regional sources and wood sourced from sustainably managed forests were used for the construction and the fabrication of outdoor furniture and benches. 

  • The glass façade protects against unwanted glare, and the white frit glass blocks harmful solar heat gain. 

  • Light-colored paving and roofing materials to reduce the heat island effect 

  • The cooling and heating systems utilize chilled beam technology to reduce energy consumption. 

  • High-efficiency plumbing fixtures reduce potable water demand. 

  • Water efficient landscaping, including a hardy, low-maintenance lawn and careful sourcing of native plant species. 

  • More than 90 percent of on-site generated construction waste diverted away from landfills. 

Columbia follows a model clean construction program at its Manhattanville campus, which includes the prioritization of electric equipment over diesel equipment; the use of the latest diesel emission control technology for on-road and off-road equipment when diesel is required; a wheel washing system for trucks that uses a high volume of recycled water, and other efforts addressing air quality, noise and vibration reduction and pest management. 

“Sustainability is a core value of Columbia and its Manhattanville campus plan, and Columbia Business School’s LEED Gold designation is a demonstration of that,” said David M. Greenberg, executive vice president of Columbia University Facilities and Operations. “I am incredibly proud of our project team for their contributions to help make this possible while successfully completing the project despite unforeseen challenges brought on by the pandemic.” 

David Geffen Hall and The Square

“The LEED Gold designation speaks to the high commitment to sustainability exhibited by everyone involved in the design and construction of the new Business School buildings and The Square, from the architects to the construction managers and everyone in between. I commend our project team, professional consultants, and the construction workers whose collective hard work led to another LEED Gold certification in Manhattanville,” said Hany Ayoub, deputy vice president of Columbia’s Manhattanville Development Group. 

“Columbia has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 through the science-based targets set in Plan 2030, of which sustainable building design is a large part,” said Jessica Prata, associate vice president of Environmental Stewardship. “Building design affects the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the operation of the building over its lifetime, therefore impacting the environment on a number of levels.” 

Henry R. Kravis Hall and The Square

Columbia Business School spans 492,000 square feet across its two buildings, nearly double that of the School’s previous square footage at the Morningside campus. Both buildings were designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with executive architect FXCollaborative and associate architect Aaris Design Studios, and feature a combination of circulation routes, multifunctional spaces, lounges, dining facilities, and study rooms to encourage collaboration across disciplines and spark innovation. In between the two buildings is a 40,000 square-foot public green space called The Square, designed by James Corner Field Operations, which offers flexible and collaborative space for outdoor gatherings, lectures, meetings, and performances. 

Henry R. Kravis and David Geffen Halls join a growing list of LEED-certified projects across the University. Like Kravis and Geffen Halls, all new buildings at Columbia’s Manhattanville campus to date have received LEED Gold certification: The Forum, Jerome L. Greene Science Center, and Lenfest Center for the Arts. In addition, the overall Manhattanville campus plan achieved a LEED-ND Platinum recognition for its environmentally sustainable design – the first higher education institution in the U.S. and the first organization in New York City to receive this designation – and earned an Award for Excellence in Institutional Development from the Urban Land Institute New York