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Northwestern’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts is an award-winner in sustainability, making the Evanston campus “greener” than ever.


The Ryan Center has been certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold for New Construction (v2.2) by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).


LEED is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, building projects must satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification, which differ for each rating system.


LEED certification is recognized worldwide as the premier mark of achievement in green building.


The Ryan Center is a sleek glass-encased 155,000-square-foot building. It is the new home of the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music.


Designed by Goettsch Partners, Inc., a Chicago-based architectural firm, the contemporary limestone and glass five-story structure includes three state-of-the-art performance spaces: the 400-seat Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall, the 163-seat black box-style Shirley Welsh Ryan Opera Theater and the 120-seat David and Carol McClintock Choral and Recital Room.


The sprawling center also includes classroom space, 99 soundproof practice rooms, 66 faculty teaching studios or offices and additional office space for staff and administrators. The center’s fifth floor houses School of Communication administrative offices.


Northwestern’s goal for the music school was to build a highly sustainable facility, one that engages and invigorates the campus and larger community. The University intends to use the building as an educational tool to encourage and advance the science and knowledge of green building and operating practices.


The Ryan Center’s sustainable and energy-efficient features follow:


  • The double skin facade in many of the building’s areas provides acoustical isolation and greatly improves the thermal performance of the facade.
  • The building's under-slab drainage system is connected to a grey-water tank. This grey-water system provides grey-water for the toilet and irrigation systems in the building and reduces water usage.
  • The building was designed not only to be energy- and water-efficient, using 49 percent less interior water, but also to create a healthy environment for occupants that promotes sustainable behavior. Features include the use of low-emitting materials and products; materials with recycled and regional content that are low-emitting, including air testing; and access to daylight and natural views.
  • Additional sustainable design elements include high-efficiency and low-flow water fixtures, which reduce potable water consumption; high SRI roofing material to reduce the heat island effect; and energy-efficient lighting to decrease energy consumption.
  • The integration of the high-performance facade and innovative systems result in anticipated design energy EUI of 72.5 kBtu/sf/yr (as analyzed in the final proposed LEED energy model) that is well below the ASHRAE baseline building EUI of 108.6 kBtu/sf/yr, and the national average site EUI for university educational buildings of 120 kBtu/sf/yr.
  • State-of-the-art mechanical and lighting systems contribute to the Ryan Center’s energy savings.
  • The Ryan Center site location includes access to public transportation, and the University has instituted a campus-wide discount for LEFE (low emission, fuel efficient) vehicles.
  • There also are many options for bicycle storage available near the Ryan Center and throughout the Northwestern campus.


To read the entire story, visit the Northwestern News Center.


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