Duke Kunshan Campus Recognized for Sustainable Design

Duke Kunshan University is the first Chinese university campus to be certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) campus program, with all five campus buildings certified according to LEED standards by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The Academic Building and the Conference Center are rated LEED Gold, while the Student Residence, the Faculty Residence and the Service Building received LEED Silver certification. Mahesh Ramanujam, chief operating officer of USGBC, presented LEED certifications to Duke Kunshan University and Yangcheng Lake Science and Technology Park March 24 in recognition of the university’s commitment to sustainable and green architecture.

“Duke Kunshan University’s campus seamlessly blends native culture with advanced technology. Campus life is an integral part of the Duke Kunshan faculty and student experience, and this certification is an important symbol of Duke Kunshan’s commitment to world-class standards,” said Liu Jingnan, chancellor of Duke Kunshan University.

LEED is the most widely used and recognized green building standard across the globe. The USGBC awards LEED certification to buildings, homes and communities that are leaders in environmentally friendly design, construction, operations and maintenance.

The Duke Kunshan campus LEED certification is an extension of Duke University’s commitment to green design and construction, which ensures all new construction and major renovations comply with Duke's sustainable building policy and meet campus goals for energy and water efficiency. The Duke University campus in Durham, North Carolina, USA currently has 36 LEED certified buildings and four buildings registered with LEED for future certification.

“Duke Kunshan University has embraced the concept of green building in its campus design and operations, a critical practice that is increasingly important for the world’s sustainable development,” said Ramanujam. “It’s a remarkable achievement that I believe will serve as a great example for more and more educational institutions in China and worldwide.”

The absorbent “sponge campus”

The Duke Kunshan campus is distinguished by its extensive use of aquatic elements, making the master site an absorbent “sponge campus,” where almost every raindrop is absorbed, stored, permeated, purified and reused. Duke Kunshan’s ecological system consists of 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 which 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-centered design for better living

The campus’s water-saving feature isn’t the only reason it is attracting attention. The university’s facilities are designed around human needs, creating a healthy and cozy space for students and faculty to study, live and communicate.

Classrooms are equipped with air filtration and carbon dioxide monitoring systems that automatically pump in fresh air; 32 percent of the campus site area is covered by oxygen-generating native plants; decorative materials are strictly selected to ensure a low VOC (volatile organic compound) emission level that reaches the highest green adhesives standards of E1 and E0; and smoking is banned in all indoor areas on campus.

Campus bus lines provide transportation between the university and points of interest in Kunshan, while reducing private car usage. Additionally, bicycle stations across the campus encourage students and faculty members to explore the community in a healthy and environmentally responsible way.

Buildings equipped with energy-saving technologies

Systems across the campus are equipped with energy-saving technology to reduce the carbon footprint of essential operations, including transportation, lighting, hot water and MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) systems.

Ceiling-to-floor glass curtain walls in the Academic Building, Conference Center and several other buildings optimize natural light and views while reducing energy consumption. To complement the natural light, dimmers can be found in busy areas like classrooms and the fitness center, improving energy efficiency and allowing users to control lighting levels according to their needs and preferences.

High efficiency water-saving fixtures are installed throughout the campus, reducing total water usage by 38 percent. Six hundred and seventy-five square meters of rooftop solar thermal collectors—capable of generating 470,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy per year—fully power the university’s water heating systems.

About Duke Kunshan University

Duke Kunshan University is a partnership of Duke University and Wuhan University to create a world-class university offering a range of academic programs and conferences for students from China and throughout the world. Duke Kunshan is located in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, China.

Duke Kunshan University welcomed its first students in August 2014 and currently offers graduate degrees and semester-long programs for undergraduate students enrolled at Duke and other universities. For more information, visit dukekunshan.edu.cn.