The Most Sustainable Building at UConn

Laurel Hall, University of Connecticut

The students, faculty, and staff arriving on UConn’s Storrs campus at the start of the 2011-2012 academic year were welcomed with several new classrooms and other learning spaces. Among them was the newly-constructed Laurel Hall, the University’s first LEED Gold Certified building. Built on the site of UConn’s demolished pharmacy building, the social sciences and classroom building features several environmentally-friendly design components that reduce operating costs, conserve energy and water, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and ensure a healthy working environment for occupants.

The academic building has two components: a one-story, copper-faced volume containing two large lecture halls, and a three-story brick volume with 17 high-tech classrooms. Each classroom differs in size, with smaller rooms seating about 25 students and others seating nearly 70. The lecture halls seat 200 and 400 students, with the latter currently the largest lecture hall on campus.

BVH designed modern and energy-efficient heating, cooling, electrical, lighting, life safety and information technology systems throughout. They connect to the existing campus infrastructure, including the campus steam, chilled water, electric, water, fire protection, fire alarm reporting, and building automation systems.

To minimize the amount of mechanical equipment on the roof, prolong life expectancy of equipment, and provide ease of maintenance, BVH utilized the basement for a majority of the MEP systems and components.

Laurel Hall incorporates many sustainable features:

  • Energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems with digital controls.
  • A green roof covers the lecture hall component of the building. Visible to students as they walk through the Classroom Building, the green roof reduces heating and cooling loads and storm water run-off.
  • Bioswales collect storm water, allowing suspended solids to settle out, then water percolates through the soil to recharge the water table.
  • Water-efficient features such as low flow valves and faucets reduce water consumption by an estimated 55%.
  • Centralized air quality controls promote healthier indoor environment and improve energy savings.
  • Optimized Energy Performance: Using energy simulation modeling, the project has been estimated to exceed energy conservation requirements by over 47% when combined with central plant efficiencies.


Leers Weinzapfel Associates

Size / Cost

68,000 SF / $25.5 million


Connecticut Green Building Council: 2012 Alexion Award of Excellence Connecticut Green Building Council: 2012 Honor Award, Institutional Category 2012


electrical, fire protection, mechanical, plumbing, technology