LEED-ing Rockwell Towards Sustainable Design

photo 2Students, Lixuan He, Peter Kassouf, Nicholas Monzo, and Laura Monahan, placed first in Duquesne’s MBA Sustainability LEED Commercial Interiors design project. Two students in our class, architect Dan Sutton and Carnegie Mellon University architecture student Rohini Srivistava consulted the student teams throughout the semester-long project.

“Being a consultant for the LEED CI project was very enjoyable because it allowed me to share my background experience and education with my classmates,” shared student and architect Dan Sutton.  “It was rewarding to see how each groups project developed over time and it was great to see how teams would take my advice and make it their own to create their new vision for Rockwell Hall.”

All of the student teams went outside their comfort zone to envision a plan for Rockwell Hall that accounted for triple bottom line benefits.  The students were instructed to create a design within a $2M budget that considers and educates stakeholders, while demonstrating the highest possible LEED CI point rating.

“The LEED CI project was an exciting opportunity to take sustainability concepts and get creative by applying them to a project that’s very close to our program, since it involves renovating the building that we use every day,” shared Nick Monzo, member of the winning team. “I’ve always enjoyed construction projects with my dad, and I loved having the chance to plan a large-scale project with a strategic sustainability vision in mind.”

photoEach year, Dr. Sroufe’s spring course, Sustainability Tools and Processes, includes a LEED CI project that focuses on different parts of Duquesne University.  Throughout the spring semester, Dr. Sroufe arranged visits and guest lecturers to educate the cohort on sustainable building design that assisted with our projects.  This year’s challenge forced the cohort to envision a new design for the concourse and basement levels of Rockwell Hall.  A panel of judges including architects, professors, alumni, and members of the business community judged teams in this competition.



European Central Bank Idea Sharing


Today we had the opportunity to meet with sustainability leaders and ambassadors at the European Central Bank. This visit allowed us to not only relate our sustainability knowledge, but also economics since we just finished up discussing central banking systems. Our cohort had the ability to exchange ideas regarding sustainable business solutions and initiatives. The bank specifically found interest in game theory to change behavior. To gather a quick understanding of the ECB and Eurosystem here is a quick video!


Passivhaus Institute

1797994_583548705074796_1463370414_nGuten tag! Our business visits began today with a visit to the Passivhaus Institute, an international standard for sustainable architecture. At the institute, Passivhaus employees focus on research and development, training, certifications, passive house planning software, quality assurance, and conferences.

There are about 400,000 Passivhaus certified buildings in the world, and even more implement Passivehaus principles in their buildings. It is a growing trend in the US with 600 passivhaus buildings, mainly in New York and California.

What’s special about a passive house?
– A high level of thermal insulation
– Well insulated window frames
– Thermal bridge free construction
– Airtight building envelope
– Ventilation with efficient heat recovery


Matt Lepri had the opportunity to attend a Passivhaus conference in Pittsburgh last semester, so he was excited for the rest of the cohort to learn more. “Passivhaus gives people a new way to plan for buildings, homes or any construction,” shares Matt. “It flips the usual process to develop a plan for the structure first, then use renewables to cover the rest of the energy. It takes buildings past planning for solar panels.”

Our presenter, Adrienne, lives in a passivhaus building and shared many of the benefits, including “clean air” and an “energy savings between 75-90%”.

Overall, we had an eye-opening morning that may lead students to potential solutions for our sustainable building design project in Dr. Sroufe’s sustainable tools and innovation class. Video to learn more about Passive House!

Networking with Forbes Fund Executives

The Forbes Fund and Duquesne University are located in Pittsburgh; however, it took a cross-country trip to make the connection.

The Forbes Fund, a supporting organization of the Pittsburgh Foundation, focuses on strengthening the management and policy-making capacity of the nonprofit sector.  I came across the Forbes Fund on the Net Impact site before the conference, and we had the opportunity to get to know President Kate Dewey and Director of Innovation Garrett Cooper in San Jose.  Kate and Garrett share the Net Impact common vision of impacting society through business practices.  They are optimistic about what our generation will accomplish.

This encounter reminded me how valuable networks can be – including student, alumni and professional organizations.  Our Net Impact chapter is excited about creating a productive new partnership.   Kate and Garret will be joining us and leading an idea café at Net Impact meeting next semester!