The facility housing the business school at the University of California, Berkeley, is laying claim to the title of the greenest academic building in the nation.
The Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley says Chou Hall has received not only a LEED Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Build Council, but also TRUE Zero Waste certification from Green Business Certification Inc.
The TRUE Platinum Zero Waste certification is a result of efforts to divert more 90 percent of Chou's landfill waste.
“The whole team is beyond excited to lead the way with the country’s greenest academic building,” says Danner Doud-Martin, the staff lead of the Haas Zero Waste Initiative and associate director of the International Business Development Program at Haas. “It’s been such a journey—more than two years of trying to get all of our stakeholders on board with behavioral changes.”
The Chou Hall Zero Waste Initiative is a joint effort led by graduate and undergraduate students working with Cal Zero Waste, Haas faculty and staff, facilities management, and building vendors.
Haas officials also learned this month that Chou Hall received LEED Platinum certification. It received 85 points—well above the 80 points required for the Platinum rating. Haas is also pursuing a third designation—WELL certification—given to buildings that promote user health and well-being.
“Going for all three certifications at the highest level is incredibly ambitious,” says Courtney Chandler, Haas chief strategy and operating officer. “With WELL certification we hope to achieve a trifecta. We are so proud of the work that everyone has done to make Chou Hall the greenest business building in the country, and we hope that our work will inspire and guide all of the UC campuses and other institutions across the country.”
TRUE Zero Waste certification levels include Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. To achieve TRUE Platinum, the team earned 69 out of the 70 credits that they applied for. Credits included everything from composting food scraps to tracking the purchase of environmentally preferred products to providing employees with access to zero-waste training to reducing the use of hazardous waste chemicals.
The zero waste certification process began as soon as Chou Hall opened to students in August 2017. In August 2018, Haas participated in its third week-long TRUE Zero Waste audit. The audits are a required component to better understand the waste flow and provide a benchmark for improvement.
The team used audit data to make more zero-waste adjustments and recommendations.
Doud-Martin says the next phase will be to encourage a shift from recycling and composting toward reusing or reducing single-use items such as “to go” containers and coffee cups.