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.

In the spring of 2019, the Yale School of Public Health Sustainability Committee coordinated the installation of living walls in four below-ground classrooms. Potted plants—carefully selected to flourish in low and artificial light—were placed into wall racks by 30 members of the YSPH community, including faculty, staff, and students. Living walls bring the outdoors in, improving a room’s aesthetics while also supporting the intellectual, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals who regularly use the spaces.

This Objective is supported by the following goals. Progress reflects activities and accomplishments from July 2018 - June 2019: 

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 conjunction with the comprehensive revision of the Yale Sustainable Design Requirementsa process  was established to continually update and improve Yale design requirements. Updates include requirements to eliminate the use of certain chemicals in furniture, new façade design requirements to avoid bird collisions with buildings, and requirements for all gender bathrooms. 

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

  • 22 building projects are certified LEED Gold
  • Three building projects are certified LEED Platinum

Building projects currently completed or underway:

  • One targeting LEED Platinum certification
  • Eleven targeting LEED Gold certification

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. 

Ongoing strategies for maintenance (e.g. retro commissioning) and building design and construction (e.g. high-performance standards) are in place to guide campus development in support of Yale’s carbon neutrality commitment. Going forward, campus development will embody efficient growth principles.

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.

This Objective is supported by the following goals. Progress reflects activities and accomplishments from July 2018 - June 2019: 

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.


A preventive maintenance program has been implemented, along with equipment upgrades in order to ensure high performance sustainable outcomes, reliable system operation, occupant comfort, and customer satisfaction. In addition, a project turnover protocol has been tested in several projects, and health impact assessment toolkits are being developed.   


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.


As sustainability action plans are created and updated, goals are set around reconfigured workspaces and space assignments to enhance space use.