Knox Hall Awarded LEED Gold

  Columbia's Fourth LEED Certified Building

With the installation of four geothermal wells and a complete interior renovation, Knox Hall has become the fourth Columbia University building to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. In February 2011, the building received a Gold Certification by the United States Green Building Council, the nation's foremost coalition of leaders in sustainable building design and construction and developers of the LEED building rating system.

"Whether it's the renovation of older buildings or new construction, Columbia is committed to sustainable design and green construction," Columbia University Facilities Executive Vice President Joe Ienuso said.

Knox Hall-a century-old building of landmark quality that caps the north end of Union Theological Seminary's quadrangle-reopened in fall 2009 as a Columbia University academic facility after a 16-month-long renovation. The 50,000-sf, seven-story structure was gutted, then reconstructed for classroom and offices, and entirely updated to the best standards of sustainable design. This included the replacement of all windows with low-emissivity glass; use of post-consumer, recycled gypsum wallboard; and use of high-efficiency lighting that operates on motion sensors and timers. The building, which is located at West 122nd Street and Claremont Avenue/Seminary Row, is now home for the departments of sociology, MEALAC, Middle East Institute, South Asia Institute and the Africa Institute.

Key to Knox's renovation was the addition of four 1,800-ft-deep geothermal wells that descend under Manhattan's grounds and draw water that is being used for heating and cooling the building's mechanical system. By using the wells, a first for Columbia, energy costs are expected to be reduced by 22% and water consumption is expected to be reduced by 47%, as opposed to using a conventional system. Furthermore, the University is able to preserve the original appearance of the building's façade and roofline, as opposed to placing a cooling tower atop the building.

In addition to its LEED Gold certification, Knox Hall was honored in the "redevelopment" category by the Greater New York User Council (GNYCUC) during its 2010 Chairman's Reception. It also received an honorable mention at Environmental Design & Construction's 2010 Excellence in Design Awards, where the building was recognized in the award's education category for its sustainable design techniques.

Knox Hall joins a growing list of LEED certified University buildings, including The Columbia Alumni Center (LEED Gold), Faculty House (LEED Gold), and the Gary C. Comer Geochemistry Building at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LEED Silver). For more information about the construction of Knox Hall, visit