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Green means LEED Gold for IU School of Medicine’s Glick Eye Institute


INDIANAPOLIS — The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute is the first building on an Indiana University campus to achieve LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Home to the Department of Ophthalmology at the IU School of Medicine on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis the Glick Eye Institute was designed and constructed with LEED environmental standards to achieve the Gold status, which is awarded to sustainable buildings with energy-saving features. This distinction shows that RATIO Architects, which designed the building, employed environmentally conscious building practices from concept through construction, which was completed in 2011.

Richard Thompson, IU architect for research, said sustainability is important to IU.

“The university works hard to construct buildings that show a commitment to the environment while providing an efficient and healthy workplace for faculty, staff and students and a comforting, safe place for patients,” he said.

Aiming for silver, the building achieved gold status, Thompson said.

“It was truly a team effort involving the design team, the campus and the contractors to achieve this distinction,” Thompson said, noting that John Kamman, campus energy engineer manager, and contractors F.A. Wilhelm, Johnson Melloh and Huston Electric also deserve recognition.

“The designation of the Glick Eye Institute as IUPUI’s first LEED-certified building is a demonstration of the ongoing commitment to our campus sustainability principles,” said Colleen McCormick, director of the Office of Sustainability at IUPUI. “The university strives to pursue sustainable design and management of our built environment as a means for conserving energy and water, utilizing sustainable building materials and providing a healthy work environment.”

The eye institute contains built-in features that maximize energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality, including:

  • Sustainable site development with a small rain garden feature and detention structure for irrigation through a drip distribution system.
  • Construction waste and debris sorted on site for recycling.
  • Energy-efficient systems for lighting and heat recovery.
  • Water savings with the use of reduced-flow toilets and sinks.
  • Selection of materials and resources including the use of native plant species in landscaping and high recycled content with green and low volatile organic compound products on interior materials.
  • Indoor environmental quality in labs where occupancy and air-monitoring systems determine the occupant load and sample the air to respond to any air contaminants or to reduce air flow and energy when not occupied.

“As a primary goal of the project, the design team looked for ways to integrate sustainable practices into the building and site,” said Brock Roseberry of RATIO Architects. “Architectural decisions about glass — its pattern opacity and orientation to the sun — along with the building’s site orientation, helped establish the direction. Although the building is primarily a day-lit, pleasant atmosphere for its employees and patrons, many of the Glick Eye Institute’s LEED point-scoring features are hidden in its efficient operation.”

Roseberry said some of the hidden efficiencies include highly energy-efficient heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems that are monitored for optimal air quality and user-controlled and the ability to store rainwater to irrigate the lawn on hot, dry days.

“This type of efficiency took exceptional coordination and planning with a broadly experienced team of university leaders, designers and engineers,” Roseberry said. “The building’s gold status achievement exceeded expectations and has become a showcase for proactive, sustainable design on the IUPUI campus.”

The Glick Eye Institute is among a select group of buildings in Indiana. A U.S. Green Building Council spokesman said there were 14 LEED Gold certifications in Indiana in 2012, with only one in the health care industry. In 2011, there were 10 LEED Gold certifications, and none in the health care arena.

“The building gives the Department of Ophthalmology the opportunity to provide patient care, perform research and provide education in one location that is designed for multiple uses and audiences, is efficient and sustainable for the future,” said Louis B. Cantor, M.D., chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology. The 77,000-square-foot building, home to the IU Health Ophthalmology Center and an optical shop, features clinical research laboratories on the second floor, and basic science research laboratories on the third floor, as well as shell space on the third and fourth floors for future research expansion. The Glick Eye Institute also houses a library, conference space and offices for physicians and support staff.

The building’s signature feature is a south-facing glass wall with an intricate color and pattern of iron-free glass that has a brilliant clarity. The exterior combines precast concrete and brick to visually connect to the architectural expressions of the School of Medicine and other IUPUI academic buildings.  

The interior was designed to allow collaboration at all levels, with wide corridors, informal meeting spaces and a light-filled atrium that allows natural light to reach all floors.

“It is a significant achievement for a building containing research laboratories to meet LEED Gold certification,” said Timothy Corson, Ph.D., whose lab at the Glick Eye Institute researches treatments and cures for ocular cancers. “As researchers, we reap the benefits every day, working in lab and office space with so much natural light that we rarely need to use electric lighting. Knowing that we are working in a LEED Gold building will also encourage us to meet high standards of sustainability in our workplace practices.”

LEED is a registered trademark of the U.S. Green Building Council, which designates four levels of certification: certified, silver, gold and platinum. The certification is a voluntary, consensus-based national rating system for buildings designed, constructed and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.

“The green building movement offers an unprecedented opportunity to respond to the most important challenges of our time, including global climate change, dependence on non-sustainable and expensive sources of energy and threats to human health,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council.

At IUPUI, sustainability leadership promotes a common agenda for a green campus to apply thoughtful and creative planning to achieve a thriving campus community built on the principles of sustainability, Thompson said. 

A $30 million gift from Eugene and Marilyn Glick funded most of the $26 million in construction costs; their gift also provided a $10 million research endowment.