Illinois ECE Building Awarded LEED Platinum Certification

11/15/2019 Ryann Monahan, Illinois ECE

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering building has been awarded LEED Platinum certification

Written by Ryann Monahan, Illinois ECE

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering building at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been awarded LEED Platinum certification.

Illinois ECE achieved LEED Platinum certification for implementing practical and measurable strategies and solutions aimed at achieving high performance in: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, sustainable construction and waste management, and indoor environmental quality.

The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is the foremost program for buildings, homes, and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.  LEED Platinum certification is the highest rating awarded by the USGBC.  The rating considers construction materials, processes, water management, lighting, ventilation, energy, and a long list of attributes for sustainability and quality of life.

“Illinois ECE’s LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC. “LEED was created to make the world a better place and revolutionize the built environment by providing everyone with a healthy, green and high performing buildings.  Illinois ECE serves as a prime example of how the work of innovative building projects can use local solutions to make a global impact on the environment.”

The ECE Building is designed to be one of the largest net-zero energy buildings of its kind in the country and includes countless features to help meet that goal.  Many of those features also contributed to its LEED Platinum certification.

One example is the rooftop solar panel installation, which generates renewable electricity for the state-of-the-art building and contributes to the campus-wide power grid.  The rest of the energy needed to achieve net-zero performance comes from campus solar farms.

Active displays will soon be set up in the ECE building’s atrium to show energy usage and power flows. On sunny days, passersby may be able to watch the building’s net-energy use drop close to zero.  A short video on Illinois ECE’s solar array can be found on YouTube at

Another example is the stormwater storage system, which ensures that water runoff from the building is slowed to the speed of the original green field.

The ECE Building is meant to be a living laboratory, allowing students and faculty members to research its sustainable features. It’s also meant to be a model for low energy design in the Midwest, proving you don’t have to live in a tropical climate to produce more energy than you consume within a building.

“Our goal was to deliver a building that represents the stature of this world-renowned department, positions its students and researchers at the forefront of emerging technology, and acts as a catalyst for efficient building energy standards on the ILLINOIS campus. Achieving LEED Platinum certification given the energy intensive nature of the building, reinforces that the strategies we chose will support Illinois ECE’s sustainability goals now and well into the future, Vice President and Director of Operations for SmithGroup, Carolina Lopez said.

The building also features several passive heating and cooling features, including a distinctive terra cotta exterior and sun shades. A chilled-beam heating and cooling system is also incredibly energy-efficient.

“Buildings that achieve LEED certification are lowering carbon emissions, creating a healthier environment and reducing operating costs while prioritizing sustainable practices. Because of Illinois ECE, we are increasing the number of green buildings and getting closer to USGBC’s goal to outpace conventional buildings, while being environmentally and socially responsible and improving the quality of life for generations to come,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC.

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This story was published November 15, 2019.