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It seems to me that university campuses have always led in green building design and implementation. The new Princeton University buildings being designed for the New Jersey campus are a great example of this leadership.

I guess their commitment to green buildings shouldn’t be a surprise, especially since they’ve had sustainability in mind for many past building projects. Apparently the landscape designer working between 1912 and 1943 consulted with many conservation experts, eventually incorporating many of their recommendations, including underground rainwater collection cisterns. Now that’s smart planning at any age!

But their new buildings are also going to be quite green, with the aim of having all new buildings reach LEED Silver certification at the very least. Their efforts to remain sustainable include:


  • Reclaiming existing lands and encouraging density rather than sprawl. Instead of developing a 400-acre parcel of forest owned by the university, they plan to work within the landscape to incorporate the buildings into those surroundings naturally.
  • Reduce the school’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, which will save 75,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. The 10-year sustainability initiative includes both old and new construction.
  • Engineer buildings to use less energy, both during construction and during operation. Many buildings will use green roofs, improved insulation, efficient windows, solar panels, and more. They’ll also include bike lock facilities and easy access to their own Princeton train system to encourage less driving on campus.


So many of these features, including the rain gardens and bike lock facilities, are interesting to me, but of course, what encourages me most is their plans to use LED lighting for outdoor spaces. Sounds like they’re definitely on track to set the pace for the rest of society. Now if only we could encourage other builders to follow suit.