The Knight Management Center, which became the new home to the Graduate School of Business (GSB) over the past year, achieved one of its major goals by receiving the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum certification–the highest level of sustainable building award currently possible–late last month.
The Knight Center earned 60 accreditation points, well beyond the 52 required for platinum level certification.
“The idea behind reaching the highest possible sustainability rating was to inspire our students to promote sustainable practices in the future, as well to save energy and water at the facility itself,” said Raj Chellaraj, associate dean for finance and administration at the GSB, in an email to the Daily.
LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an initiative by the U.S. Green Building Council to promote sustainable building development.
Factors from different areas of energy sustainability contributed to the Knight Center’s high score, according to Chellaraj. Narrow buildings that allow for 90 percent of rooms to use natural lighting reduce the electricity load of the facility. In addition, photovoltaic panels produce 12.5 percent of the electricity used by the building, and 80 percent of water used in the facility is either collected rainwater or reclaimed water.
These sustainability measures have been in place since the Knight Center opened in April 2011; however, the U.S. Green Building Council has a lengthy review process to ensure that these energy measures perform as expected before awarding LEED certifications, Chellaraj said. That process concluded in late March.
“After a year in our new space, the Knight Management Center has exceeded our expectations,” Chellaraj said.
Students and faculty alike have found the new campus to be a vast improvement over the previous GSB site, which currently sits empty to the northwest of Main Quad.
“Night and day,” said Jeff Cabili, director of program and business development for the GSB. “There’s no comparison: it’s fantastic.”
The Knight Center project sought to increase the natural light and open spaces in the GSB to make classes feel more open and inclusive.
Cabili said that the windows and natural light make a big difference from the old facility, making the rooms feel open and breathable. He also said that classrooms have been restructured to offer tiered seating, allowing him to look directly at students as he teaches.
Another goal of the project was to make the Knight Center a gathering area for people outside the business program, in addition to business students. The facility features over 50 percent open space, and centers around the Arbuckle Café, an indoor-outdoor dining facility that draws all kinds of students to the Knight Center.
One feature of the Knight Center that has turned out to be a major improvement in the eyes of many students is the d.School CoLab located on the edge of the Knight Center.
The CoLab is a collaborative facility run by both the GSB and Stanford’s Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design. The CoLab runs programs that draw students from all of the University’s schools to work together on hands-on projects in a setting that Chellaraj described as “garage-like,” in the start-up garage sense.
“I feel like it’s helping to integrate the business school a little more,” said Paige Rosetti, an MBA student, of the CoLab.
CEMEX auditorium, the Knight Center’s largest gathering space, has also become a major campus venue for events and conferences, attracting undergrads and graduate students from across the University.
The school’s push for more individualized spaces has also panned out to be a major improvement over the old GSB. Rooms called “breakout rooms” are available for students to study and collaborate in freely.
Chellaraj said that some faculty members have taken advantage of the new, flexible spaces in creative ways.
For example, he said that former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former U.K. Secretary of State for foreign and commonwealth affairs David Miliband co-led the seminar Crisis Management on the World Stage using the rooms.
Marwa Farag contributed to this report.