CU’s biotechnology building earns LEED platinum rating

The University of Colorado Boulder’s Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology building has received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, platinum rating -- the highest possible evaluation -- from the United States Green Building Council.

The 336,800-square-foot research and teaching facility opened in April on the university’s east campus. More than 60 faculty and 500 researchers, staff and students work inside, tackling a wide swath of challenges from cancer and heart disease to the development of new biofuels. LEED certification is a national benchmark for sustainable design, construction, operation and maintenance.

The building posed intense energy and water needs as well as complex safety requirements. “Earning a LEED platinum rating for such a large research building highlights the engineering challenges of providing safe and practical research space while ensuring the highest level of sustainability,” said Moe Tabrizi, director of campus sustainability.

The result is a building that is 30 percent more energy and water efficient than recently built buildings with a similar function. One tactic used by designers was to group labs with similar functions near each other in the building to centralize common lab equipment and maximize the efficiency of energy use, ventilation and heat recovery. The building’s mechanical and electrical systems incorporate significant energy savings and resource recovery.

The facility will have an array of large-scale, ground-mounted solar panels to help fulfill its energy needs. It also features evaporativecooling, which is the most energy-efficient cooling method in Colorado’s dry climate; daylight harvesting, lighting controls and LED technology; energy-efficient freezer compressors and lab exhaust fume hoods; low-flow plumbing and additional features.

The new building, which is prominent when accessing campus from Colorado Avenue and Foothills Parkway,also matches CU-Boulder’s distinct architectural look.

“This project demonstrates that we can achieve a high-performing, technically complex facility that blends our Tuscan Vernacular -- or rural Italian -- style with the demands of cutting-edge, 21st century world-class research,” said Paul Leef, campus architect.

The design team and campus engineers undertook a meticulous engineering process that combined best practices in green building, LEED requirements, and recommendations from Labs21, a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy that is dedicated to improving the environmental performance of laboratories.

CU-Boulder is a sustainability leader in higher education. The campus currently has five LEED platinum rated buildings, eight gold rated buildings and one silver. The university is committed to earning gold ratings or higher for all new construction and renovations on campus.

For more information about the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building visit and

Nicole Gordon, CU Department of Facilities Management, 303-492-8687
Emilia Costales, CU BioFrontiers Institute, 303-735-3001