AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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Seminar II, The Evergreen State College

This photo shows the exterior of the northwest academic cluster.
Photo credit: Lara Swimmer


  • Location: Olympia, WA
  • Building type(s): Higher education
  • New construction
  • 168,000 ft2 (15,600 m2)
  • Project scope: 5 4-story buildings
  • Suburban setting
  • Completed November 2004
  • Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED-NC, v.2/v.2.1--Level: Gold (40 points)

To create smaller learning communities based upon the academic program, five semi-independent academic clusters are fingered into the landscape as Seminar II. Each cluster supports four interdisciplinary academic programs and is composed of faculty offices, student "homerooms," seminar rooms, breakout spaces, a workshop, and a lecture hall. A central open volume allows daylighting, natural stack ventilation and visual connections between the academic programs.

The academic clusters respond to both the campus grid and cardinal directions, creating a variety of exterior spaces and views. A system of open walkways, stairs, and bridges tie the levels together. Outdoor classrooms extend from each lower level into this landscape.

This project was chosen as an AIA Committee on the Environment Green Project for 2005. It was submitted by Mahlum Architects, in Seattle, Washington. Additional project team members are listed on the "Process" screen.

Environmental Aspects

The design of this academic facility reflects the Evergreen State College's commitment to rigorous interdisciplinary teaching and to environmental advocacy.

To reduce the project's impact on Thornton Creek and its native salmon, a 20,443 ft2 vegetated roof was installed. Waterfree urinals and low-flow toilets reduce potable water use by 25%. The landscaping features native species and requires no irrigation.

Taking advantage of the site's moderate climate, 80% of the project is naturally ventilated. Exterior sunshades coupled with operable windows, fan-assisted night flushing, and exposed interior concrete mass achieve summer cooling. Daylighting in all occupied spaces significantly decreases lighting loads. The building is 31% more efficient, by cost, than a similarly ventilated building designed to ASHRAE 90.1-1999.

The structural and exterior closure material is concrete. This system creates a 100-year building, offers thermal mass for natural ventilation effectiveness, and provides the exterior and interior finishes on walls, ceilings, and floors. Regionally manufactured and harvested materials were preferred. Just over 79% of construction waste was diverted from the landfill.

The Evergreen State College set strict requirements for low-emitting materials, and every proposed product was scrutinized for potentially harmful offgassing. Individual building controls contribute to occupant comfort and overall satisfaction.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by The Evergreen State College, State government
  • Typically occupied by 801 person, 40 hours per person per week


Integrated team, Design charrette, Green framework, Simulation, Green specifications, Open space preservation, Wildlife habitat, Indigenous vegetation, Stormwater management, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Glazing, Passive solar, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, Durability, Benign materials, Salvaged materials, Recycled materials, Local materials, C&D waste management, Occupant recycling, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Natural ventilation, Ventilation effectiveness, Thermal comfort, Low-emitting materials

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Last updated: 4/25/2005

Our thanks to the ENERGY STAR program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and to the U.S. Department of Energy, and to BuildingGreen, Inc. for hosting the submission and judging forms.

For more information about the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects, contact AIA/COTE. For help on how to use this Web site, contact .

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