Green days coming to the lakefront

Kellogg’s new global hub aims to be a leader in green technology and energy conservation

Kellogg’s new global hub aims to be a leader in green technology and energy conservation

By Cheryl SooHoo

Green is the new purple at Kellogg.

When it opens for business in winter of the 2016-17 school year, the Kellogg School of Management’s new state-of-the-art “global hub” will be one of Northwestern’s most eco-friendly buildings.

The building design will reduce energy consumption at least 30 percent below local code requirements. “It will be one of the most efficient facilities on our two campuses,” says Rob Whittier, an adjunct lecturer and director of sustainability at Northwestern. Starting from the ground up — and truly below — a unique geothermal energy field will tap the earth’s renewable core heat to provide primary heating and cooling for the new six-story building. Depending on seasonal temperature requirements, the energy field will generate warm and cool air for the approximately 410,000-square-foot facility.

While not a first for Northwestern, the Kellogg building’s geothermal system is the school’s largest, which involved the drilling of 70 wells almost 600 feet down into bedrock. The system sits underneath an adjacent recreational playing field.

Leading the green way

Another distinctive energy-saving feature will be extensive LED lighting. LED technology uses at least 75 percent less energy than incandescent lighting, according to Energy Star, a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The lakeside building will contain some 6,000 LED lighting fixtures. Says Leann Paul, project consultant managing the design and construction of the new facility, “It will be one of the largest installations of LED lights in the country.”

Additional “green” building elements will include:
  • Light-colored roofing material to reduce solar heat gain
  • Triple-glazed windows for more efficient heating and cooling
  • Automated window shades programmed for sun and shade control
  • Low flow plumbing fixtures to conserve water
  • Daylight sensors to minimize artificial lighting
  • A ground water reservoir for landscape irrigation
  • Recycling bins for paper, glass and metal and composting for food waste
The facility’s kitchen will showcase energy efficient appliances. And the building will house additional refrigerator and freezer space to encourage the use of locally grown food and more sustainable cooking practices. Says Paul, “The extra space will allow the kitchen operator, for example, to purchase 100 cases of tomatoes that could be made into pasta sauce and then frozen for future needs.”

From the new building’s very inception, the design team from KPMB Architects of Toronto engaged Kellogg students, faculty, staff and alumni in envisioning a facility that would best capture the spirit and culture of the school. Their feedback helped to shape opportunities for low environmental impact building features. KPMB partnered with Transsolar, a German climate engineering firm, to maximize energy savings and resource conservation.

“We took nothing lightly in creating the best building envelope for the site and for Kellogg,” says Paul. “We tried to be responsible citizens by striving for sustainability that made sense for the school and Northwestern.”

Committed to improving its carbon footprint, the University’s goal is to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in all renovations and new construction. Kellogg’s new headquarters will easily meet that best-in-class building standard, and may exceed it, says Whittier. “The sustainability efforts of the Kellogg design team have been fantastic,” he says. “Platinum certification, the highest rating, is a possibility and the team is monitoring efforts to achieve this level.”

However, he admits Kellogg’s Midwestern location may offer a significant challenge compared to business schools situated in more temperate climates. In sunny California, for instance, solar energy can be more easily harnessed. Of Kellogg’s peers that have invested in new facilities in recent years, only the Knight Management Center of the Stanford Graduate School of Business has received LEED Platinum certification, earning it in 2012 following its opening the previous year.

Strategy of sustainability

The greening of Northwestern and Kellogg follows a growing commitment to do what is right for the present and the future of this planet and its occupants, a notion has come to the attention of many Fortune 500 companies, says Whittier. Formerly the manager of sustainability and climate change at Deloitte Consulting before joining Northwestern in 2011, Whittier advised corporate clients in alternative energy, cleantech and greenhouse gas management, among other areas.

“The intersection between sustainability and business strategy is increasingly evident and important,” says Whittier. “Sustainability has become central to business strategy. More business school programs across the nation are reflecting that trend in their curriculum and programs.”

It appears that Kellogg’s new building will serve not only as an outstanding global hub of growth-minded leadership but also one of exemplary global stewardship of our world’s natural resources.
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