The LEED Platinum Human Ecology Building reflects the college's and Cornell's commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship.

The structure blends seamlessly into the surrounding natural landscape with minimal disruption to the neighboring community on Forest Home Drive. Its green roof provides a natural transition from the adjacent Cornell Botanic Gardens and its stone façade and reflective windows respond to the nearby environment.

Every facet of the design and construction reflects a careful commitment to responsible stewardship and sustainability, with the project achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, the highest rating for sustainable structures, in September 2012.

See the poster that describes the LEED effort, and visit Cornell's Sustainable Campus website!

Sustainable features

  • During the project, more than 1,050 tons of waste were diverted from disposal in landfills through recycling and reuse.

  • 91 percent of the wood used in the project was certified as sustainably harvested by the Forest Stewardship Council.

  • 24 percent of the total dollar value in materials was manufactured and extracted within a 500-mile radius of Ithaca, and 35 percent of the total dollar value in material is in recycled content.

  • 60 percent of the furniture in the building (desks, bookshelves, and chairs) by total dollar value has been salvaged and refinished from existing college inventory.

  • The adjacent courtyard is a green roof, resting atop a three-story parking garage.

  • Altogether, the project includes 42 different plant-types in three distinct zones (7 types of trees; 6 types of understory/shrub plants; 3 types of vines; and 26 types of herbaceous plants). 7,000 perennials and 20,000 flowering bulbs have been planted.

  • Carbon dioxide concentrations within the building are monitored by electronic sensors that automatically adjust the ventilation system when it needs to increase airflow for greater ventilation or limit airflow to unoccupied spaces.

  • Showers and bike racks encourage employees and visitors to limit the use of vehicle transport.

  • "Low emissions" carpeting, furniture, and building materials serve to improve the indoor air quality for occupants.

  • Preferred parking for low-emitting vehicles and an electrical vehicle charging station in the underground garage encourage reduced consumption of fossil fuels.

  • The glass facade allows for "daylight harvesting" to provide abundant natural light for occupants and visitors. Studies have shown natural light to boost productivity and mental health. It also lessens the demand for electrical lighting.