UC Sustainability

UC Sustainability


The built environment contributes over 80% of the University of Cincinnati's greenhouse gas emissions. This fact led the University of examine ways in which we can reduce the environmental and economic impacts of our buildings. UC created the Sustainable Design Policy in 2001, committing the institution to build all new construction and major renovations, whenever possible, to LEED Silver standards or higher.

Since 2004, UC has completed six LEED-certified buildings including one Silver and one Gold. Though the era of aggressive building has come to an end, the University of Cincinnati is still committed to reducing energy usage in buildings and invests millions of dollars in energy upgrades for existing buildings and systems.  More information on these projects can be found in the Energy Master Plan.  This effort has been recognized with Duke Energy's Power Partner of the Year award in 2012.

UC to Issue Green Bonds

The Series 2014C General Receipts Bonds (Green Bonds) will finance a portion of the Scioto Hall Renovation, a University on-campus residence hall that has been identified as a project promoting environmental sustainability.

In 2013, the University completed the renovation of Morgens Hall, the on-campus residence hall sister building to Scioto Hall, originally built in 1965. A major theme throughout the renovation of Morgens’ Hall was to increase the building’s energy efficiency.

Renovations included the following features:

1‐inch‐thick glass panels with low‐e coatings and manual roller shades with 99 percent closure helping to control the building’s temperature, thereby saving on heating and cooling costs

All mechanical systems were designed for energy efficiency

100% LED lighting, resulting in over 20% reduction in overall energy needs in lighting alone

Energy recovery system which captures heat from existing bathroom exhaust, using that heat to pretreat outdoor air systems that serve the entire building

FSC certified core doors

Use of recycled materials

Use of regional materials

Center for Academic Research Excellence/Crawley, 2008


CARE / Crawley Building
* CARE/Crawley
LEED certification scorecard

Teachers College (renovation), 2010

LEED Silver

Teachers College
* Teachers College
LEED certification scorecard

Morgens Hall, 2013

LEED Silver

Morgens Hall
* Morgens Hall
LEED certification scorecard

Joseph A. Steger Student Life Center, 2004

LEED Certified

Steger Student Life Center
* Joseph A. Steger Student Life Center
LEED certification scorecard

Van Wormer Hall (renovation), 2006

LEED Certified

Van Wormer Hall
* Van Wormer Hall
LEED certification scorecard

Richard E. Lindner Athletic Center & Varsity Village, 2006

LEED Certified

Richard E. Lindner Varsity Village
* Richard E. Lindner Varsity Village
LEED certification scorecard

Campus Recreation Center (CRC), 2006

LEED Certified

Campus Recreation Center
* Campus Recreation Center
LEED certification scorecard

Scioto Hall, (Under Renovation)

LEED certification expected

Scioto Color Studies

What is LEED?

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance 'green' buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality (U.S. Green Building Council).


Case studies show that LEED can directly reduce building construction and operating costs on college and university campuses. Greater durability and enhanced occupant productivity make green design features and materials even more cost-effective. While LEED is least costly for original designs, there are cost-effective ways to apply it to retrofit existing buildings as well.

The LEED rating system applies different levels of certification depending on varied design elements. Whether LEED is right for a given building depends in part on the goals of the campus planners and the types of amenities they wish to include. (U.S. Green Building Council).

Four levels of certification:
LEED Certified 40 - 49 points
LEED Silver 50 - 59 points
LEED Gold 60 - 79 points
LEED Platinum 80+ points (100 possible)

University of Cincinnati’s Commitment

The University of Cincinnati has a requirement for all new construction, and whenever possible renovations, to be certified LEED Silver or higher.  This requirement demonstrates the University’s commitment to responsible design and construction.  A critical aspect of this intent, particularly by example, is to reduce risks to employee and student health and safety, and to simplify the maintenance and ensure the longevity of buildings and equipment.  The ability to foresee and employ technical innovations to achieve this goal becomes even more critical during times of low available operating cash or credit, which can be an inevitable part of higher education financial cycles, and which must be planned for where feasible.

During the past 16 years of Master Plan construction, The University has experienced a transformation of its campus (nearly 50%) that is historically incomparable. At a commitment of over $2 billion, the journey from departure to destination has produced a cohesive and coherent assembly of new and renovated buildings, recreation facilities, improved residential environments, athletic and performance venues, and sculpted landscapes and plazas.

Green Housekeeping

In addition to how buildings are constructed, how buildings are maintained and cleaned has a significant environmental impact.  UC has instituted a Green Cleaning Policy to mitigate this.  The most recent formal iteration of this policy can be found here.