Sustainable Design-Corporate and Institutional Partnerships - Carnegie Mellon University

Office Space for a Sustainable Future 

Although the exterior of the Robert Mehrabian Collaborative Innovation Center is covered by windows and beige terra cotta tiles, you could call it both green and gold.

The building received a Gold Core and Shell Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certificate from the U.S. Green Building Council for its high level of sustainability and efficiency. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED evaluates projects in several categories, such as water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials, and resources and indoor environmental quality.

The center reflects Carnegie Mellon's core values in its green building design. Designed by Davis Gardner Gannon Pope Architecture, LLC, the four-story, 128,000-square-foot center features large open spaces that provide its tenants with an energy efficient, cost-effective, healthy, flexible, and adaptable work environment. The CoLab, which can accommodate over 400 employees, uses "green design" principles—some developed at Carnegie Mellon's Center for Building Performance Diagnostics—and building materials that ensure sustainability and maximize employee productivity.

The building design features an energy-efficient, modular raised floor system, allowing twice as much fresh air to enter the building and enabling individual researchers to control the airflow and climate in their own work areas. Energy is saved because the air is moved at a slower speed with less cooling required.

The floor, 24" x 24" panels placed 18 inches above the structural floor, allows air diffusers and power and utility lines to be easily reconfigured to meet workspace needs. This "plug and play" concept is compatible with most office technologies.

Large windows wrap around the exterior of the structure to maximize daylight, while the interior indirect lighting system reduces glare.

The exterior wall columns of the building and floor slabs extend beyond the windows to serve as a shading device to minimize the negative effects of the sun.

The exterior construction also uses an energy-efficient rain-screen system developed in Europe, allowing much more wall insulation. Three inches of insulation, a waterproof membrane, steel studs, and dry wall are used behind special five-foot-long terra cotta tiles that require no mortar.

A multi-level parking garage for more than 220 vehicles sits below the four-story office building. The garage includes a recharging station for electric vehicles. Locker rooms are available for employees to shower and change into work attire should they decide to commute to work by bicycle.