First University Campus to Earn LEED Accreditation in China

May Ong
Officially opened in mid-2014, Duke Kunshan University is a state-of-the-art campus located in Kunshan, China. It is the first Chinese university campus to be certified by the LEED campus programme, with all five campus buildings certified according to LEED standards by the US Green Building Council.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certificate was recently awarded to its Academic Building and Conference Centre, while the Student Residence, Faculty Residence and Service Building received LEED silver certification.

Faithful+Gould was brought on board as the building sustainability consultants to help the university realise its green aspirations. We worked with the client and project team to develop and integrate green solutions into the planning, design, construction and operation of the campus buildings to reduce environmental impact at every stage of their life cycle.

Moreover, we provided third-party testing and commissioning services on the campus systems and equipment including the HVAC, BMS, plumbing, firefighting, electrical, and extra-low voltage systems to ensure the buildings are handed over to operate safely, and are energy efficient, climate-responsive and in accordance to the university’s stringent design requirements.

LEED ceremony

"Duke Kunshan University wanted more than just a campus for its students – they wanted to create a first-class educational institution that’s dynamic, collaborative and eco-friendly."

Jack Guo, Faithful+Gould Senior Business Development Manager – Sustainability & Energy

Some key features of the university’s green initiatives include:

The absorbent 'sponge campus': the 67,790sqm campus is distinguished by its extensive use of aquatic elements, making the site an absorbent 'sponge campus', where almost every rain drop is absorbed, stored, permeated, purified and reused. Duke Kunshan’s ecological systems comprise four major parts; a naturally designed waterscape for rainwater collection and storm control, rainwater gardens to enhance on site permeability, an underground filtration system for water quality assurance, and an irrigation system that fully uses purified rainwater. All campus lawns are irrigated with rainwater, saving Duke Kunshan about 2,600 gallons of water each day, and eliminating potable water use for landscaping.

Human-centred design for better living: classrooms are equipped with air filtration and carbon dioxide monitoring systems that automatically pump in fresh air, with 32 percent of the campus area covered by oxygen-generating native plants. Smoking is not allowed in all indoor areas, and low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials are used throughout the site. Campus bus lines provide transportation between the university and points of interest in Kunshan, and bicycle stations are put up to encourage cycling amongst students and staff as a way to stay fit and reduce carbon footprints.

Buildings equipped with energy-saving technologies: daylight strategies, such as ceiling-to-floor glass curtain walls in the Academic Building, Conference Centre and several other buildings, help make the most out of natural lighting and reduce the need for electric lighting significantly. To further improve energy efficiency, dimmers are available in busy areas like classrooms and fitness centre to allow users to control lighting levels according to their needs and preferences. In addition, high-efficiency water-saving fixtures installed throughout the campus reduces water usage by 38 percent, and 675sqm of rooftop solar thermal collectors are used to power the entire university’s water heating system. This amounts to 470,000 kWh of renewable energy generated per year.

Jack Guo, senior business development manager – Sustainability & Energy, said: "Duke Kunshan University wanted more than just a campus for its students – they wanted to create a first-class educational institution that’s dynamic, collaborative and eco-friendly. Our team worked with our client, the various stakeholders and consultants to develop energy efficient and sustainable development plans and strategies that were both practical and measurable in delivery. We are thrilled that our aggressive efforts to support a sustainable campus has proven to be an energy-saving success story."

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