Haas students go for the green(est) as Chou Hall opens

Chou Hall staircase

Students christen the light-filled staircase in the new Chou Hall (UC Berkeley photo by Jim Block)

More than a decade in the works, Connie & Kevin Chou Hall at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business has opened to students. And the 80,000-square-foot structure is not only decked out with the latest classroom technology — but it’s on track to be the country’s greenest academic building. 

Named for Kevin Chou, who graduated from Haas with a B.S. in 2002 and went on to found mobile gaming company Kabam, and his wife, Dr. Connie Chen, the $60 million building features efficient heating, cooling, and lighting systems, rainwater cisterns and 24,300 square feet of exterior windows. All of that make it the first academic building in the U.S. designed for LEED Platinum certification and WELL certification (given to buildings that promote user health and well-being).

But Chou Hall is going one big step further toward sustainability. It hopes to lead the way on waste reduction. So reusable mugs and water bottles can be replenished at filling stations. Compost and recycling bins are located on each floor — and landfill bins are noticeably absent. The goal is to divert 90 percent of waste and achieve zero waste certification by summer 2018, becoming the first business school in the country to do so.

“We’re asking everyone to adopt a ‘pack-it-in, pack-it-out’ mentality,” says Courtney Chandler, senior assistant dean and chief strategy and operations officer. 

Students seemed more excited than inconvenienced so far. “It’s definitely worth it in the long run,” says new Haas undergrad Alicia Lin, ”It’s one thing to say you believe in being environmentally friendly, but it’s another thing to really get it going.”

Read Laura Counts' article on the Berkeley-Haas website