Built Environment

Buildings that Improve the Quality of Life

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the average American spends nearly 90% of his or her lifetime indoors. Yale is committed to ensuring healthy living and working environments for people working, living, studying and visiting our buildings. 

Yale’s Efforts

  • Yale is testing a Carbon Charge to assess if price signals can motivate building occupants to save energy.

What You Can Do

  • We want to optimize how and when we condition our buildings. Use buildings during operating hours and avoid heating and cooling spaces unnecessarily.  

Our Objectives and Goals

Transformative Design, Construction, and Maintenance

Develop transformative approaches to project design, construction, and maintenance that address financial, environmental, and social imperatives.

University Planning has initiated a comprehensive study to explore retrofits to campus building envelopes for ultra-low energy use. The research will look at how retrofit concepts differ from traditional construction methods, compare construction and operating costs, and consider broad application across campus to improve energy performance.

This Objective is supported by the following goals. Progress reflects activities and accomplishments from July 2017 - June 2018: 

High-Performance Design Standards


By 2019, evaluate existing frameworks for high-performance building design and update Yale design requirements to achieve emissions reductions, optimal performance and use, and positive health and ecosystem outcomes.


In keeping with the 2009 university requirement that all comprehensive scope construction projects achieve a minimum of LEED Gold certification, Yale has achieved the following LEED certifications:

  • 22 buildings are certified LEED Gold
  • Three buildings are certified LEED Platinum

Facilities Planning completed a comprehensive revision of the Yale Sustainable Design Requirements that considered LEED updates and other forward-thinking rating systems. Internal processes and procedures ensure compliance and tracking of sustainable attributes. Planning is updating the full Yale University Design Standards to align with Yale’s climate and sustainability ambitions.


Campus Development Strategy for Carbon Neutrality


By 2020, commit to campus development strategy that increases energy conservation and renewable energy generation in support of the carbon neutrality commitment. 

Strategies to support carbon neutrality advance efforts to improve building use, energy use, and other operations. Current initiatives include:

  • Establishment of a retro-commissioning team;
  • Creation of updated standards and protocols for building design and construction;
  • Development of new standards for project turnover, maintenance, and operation; and
  • A new Basis of Design focused on reduced energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Optimal Building Performance

Develop effective approaches to maintenance, operation, and occupancy of buildings that both ensure optimal performance and are responsive to environmental, social, and financial imperatives.

A new retro-commissioning unit within Yale Facilities evaluates and ensures optimal building performance and systems operations. This effort should reduce future maintenance issues and reduce emissions from building projects. Actions will include increasing occupant awareness of how their building operates and ensuring operations are consistent with occupant use. 

Buildings are selected based on energy usage, work order history, building occupancy and use. Ongoing performance monitoring is evaluated and coordinated through Yale’s Energy Management group.

This Objective is supported by the following goals. Progress reflects activities and accomplishments from July 2017 - June 2018: 

Maintenance, Operations, and Occupancy Standards


By 2019, define and commit to updated high-performance standards and protocols for planned maintenance, operation, and building occupancy that comprehensively integrate sustainability.


New protocols enable Facilities Operations to have input, support, and engagement on projects throughout their design, construction, commissioning, and maintenance stages. Smart technology platforms enable tracking for preventative maintenance and improved building performance.


Enhanced Space Use Policy


By 2019, develop and adopt a University policy for efficient use of campus space that improves utilization of university buildings and facilities by identifying and reducing redundancies and excess capacity.


A project to compare course timing across professional schools examined patterns between class schedules at the School of Architecture, the Divinity School, the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the School of Management, the School of Public Health, and Yale College. Recommendations to adjust class offerings should facilitate cross-enrollment between schools and increase undergraduate enrollment in appropriate Professional School courses.