The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) campus program has recently been awarded to China’s Duke Kunshan University, the first Chinese university to be certified by the rating system. All of its five campus buildings – the Academic Building, the Conference Center, the Student Residence, the Faculty Residence, and the Service Building – have achieved the LEED standards by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
According to Liu Jingnan, chancellor of Duke Kunshan University, the campus commits to sustainable and green architecture by seamlessly blending native culture and advanced technology with world class standards.
What makes the campus distinguishable from other standard universities is their extensive use of aquatic elements; in which a concept called an absorbent “sponge campus” emerges. This so-called ‘aquatic’ concept lets rain drops be absorbed, stored, permeated, purified and afterwards reused. The campus’ ecological system consists of four major elements that include a naturally designed waterscape (used for rainwater collection and storm control), enhancing on-site permeability through the use of rainwater gardens, an underground filtration system for water quality assurance, and lastly an irrigation system which completely uses purified rainwater. Duke Kunshan University claims to save about 2,600 gallons of water each day by incorporating the “sponge campus” concept. Also, all campus lawns are irrigated with rainwater, thus eliminating potable water use for landscaping.
Apart from water saving practices mentioned before, Duke Kunshan University possesses a building system equipped with energy saving technologies to reduce carbon footprint. The ceiling-to-floor glass curtain walls in the Academic Building and Conference Center, among others, optimize natural lighting while reducing energy consumption. It that isn’t enough to impress, rooftop solar thermal collectors are installed in the building to further save energy.
To meet the student’s comfortability level, the campus prioritizes health and comfort into the buildings. The classrooms employ air filtration and carbon dioxide monitoring systems, uses low VoC paints, and almost half of the campus site area is covered by oxygen-generating plants.
According to Mahesh Ramanujam, chief operations officer of USGBC, Duke Kunshan University has embraced the concept of green building in its campus design and operations – which is important for the world’s sustainable development. This achievement will act as a great example for other educational institutions in China and worldwide to engage in green practices.
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