The addition of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies’ ‘green’ building to Science Hill may make the Yale campus a little bit greenerÊ– or at least more naturally unobtrusive

The new building is one of the four goals Gustave Speth ’64 LAW ’69 set last October for his second term as Environment School dean. While the project is still in the planning stages, it will be the first “green” building on campus.

“The kind of building we want to accomplish really takes the sustainable design to a new level of accomplishment,” said Environment School professor Stephen Kellert. “There are some examples we can cite and learn from, but in other respects we’re going to be doing things that are quite innovative and quite experimental, but an educational institution can aspire to be cutting-edge and develop something that hasn’t been done before.”

With the building, the Environment School endeavors to achieve a level of environmental responsibility not currently seen in campus facilities. As the chairman of the Environment School committee planning the building, Kellert, along with the committee’s other members, has been formulating the construction and function goals of the building for the past three years.

The committee hopes environmental responsibility will manifest itself through many facets of the building. They want the building to minimize energy use, maximize energy efficiency, and avoid waste and pollution. They ideally want to convert the building’s waste into another resource and produce renewable energy on site.

Alan Brewster, another committee member and Environment School professor, explained that they want to reconnect the building’s occupants to the outside world. They envision a climate-neutral facility, meaning that it will generate few to no emissions that contribute to climate change. They hope to use as many recycled, natural, and local materials as possible, while minimizing the disturbance to the surrounding landscape.

“We’d like to restore the ecological integrity and biological diversity and attractiveness of that landscape and connect it to the building so there is a positive connection between the built environment and the natural environment,” Kellert said.

Even with these added features, Brewster explained, the committee is looking to build a Ford, not a Ferrari. The cost of the building, which is estimated at $27 million, is only ten percent greater than the cost of building a regular building, Kellert said. Speth said the Environment School has already raised two-thirds of the money necessary. The committee also hopes the design will serve as a practical example of how to build a “green” building.

“We want to realize our ideals and values as an environment school and make it an instructional and inspirational model, especially for Yale,” Kellert said. “But also because we’re an urban school. If we can do it right, hopefully it can be a model for others.”

The primary difference in the “green” building’s construction involves added time and planning in the design phase of the project, Kellert said. He said he expects Yale to send out a request for qualifications in the next week or two, which begins the process of selecting an architect. He added that an interdisciplinary approach to the project — drawing on the expertise of faculty and students — is key to its success.

Kellert estimated that the building would be completed and occupied in three to four years. The Environment School is currently spread out amongst eight buildings on Science Hill. Brewster and Kellert agreed that physically consolidating the school would increase the sense of community.

“With just the sheer size and diversity of interests [at the Environment School], it’s become much more difficult to maintain that sense of community that was always a great part of the school,” Kellert said. “It will provide a better basis to promote that feeling of common ground and community.”

While the school will retain Sage Hall, the Prospect Street wing of Osborne Memorial Laboratories, and Marsh Hall, the new building will be the primary home of the Environment School. He added that the committee also hopes the new building will provide a more comfortable space.

“We’ve taken advantage of the outside in ways that make it fresher and more accessible,” Brewster said. “Ultimately those kinds of things can make the faculty, staff, and students more productive.”

In addition to providing classrooms and offices, Speth envisions the creation of a space where all members of the University community can gather.

“A portion of it will be called the Yale Environment Center, and it will be a watering hole for people across the entire university who are interested in environmental issues, with exhibit space, meeting rooms, a lecture hall,” Speth said. “It will be a real environmental center for everybody, including undergraduates.”

While the building is a goal of Speth’s, it also helps fulfill his other aim of drawing the Environment School closer to the undergraduate college and the rest of Yale. Kellert saw the Environment Center as reinforcing the University’s ability to look at environmental issues across the campus. Brewster shared his optimism.

“We’re excited that it’s starting to move forward into the design phase,” Brewster said. “We’re really quite hopeful that we can accomplish a lot of the objectives we’ve set for ourselves.”