Yale University, Kroon Hall

New Haven, CT
Key Elements
  • LEED Platinum 
  • Sustainable water feature 
  • Rainwater harvesting system 

The 50,000-square-foot Kroon Hall hosts academic space, non-lab research space, a library, meeting spaces, office support areas, and the Carl and Emily Knobloch Environmental Center. The building is a climate-neutral model of sustainability, incorporating natural lighting and ventilation; using recycled and sustainable building materials; and meeting LEED Platinum standards. Furthermore, Kroon Hall promotes energy efficiency by using solar energy and geothermal energy to produce as much energy as it consumes. The building meets the goals documented in Science Hill Landscape and Open Space Study (on which Nitsch also worked). 

Working closely with the landscape architect, Nitsch engineered a sustainable water feature that sits on top of a ground-level green roof (over an underground loading dock and building service area). Stormwater runoff collected from the Kroon Hall’s roof and the surrounding campus area is conveyed to the water feature to be cleansed via phytoremediation by the floating aquatic plants. The water is slowly filtered through the landscape (biofilter) and the aquatic plants absorb stormwater pollutants and can contain, remove, or degrade contaminants including nutrients, heavy metals, pesticides, and pathogens. Treated stormwater is directed to an underground, 20,000-gallon storage cistern, where it is harvested for re-use within the building for toilet flushing or used on-site to irrigate the native plants in two courtyards on the 3.5-acre site. The stormwater is continually recycled through the landscape/biofilter, which continually enhances the stormwater quality.  

This rainwater harvesting system helps Yale save about 634,000 gallons of water per year, contributes to better water quality, and helps control the rate of runoff during a storm by detaining and slowly releasing excess stormwater.

Nitsch received a 2010 American Council of Engineering Companies/MA Engineering Excellence Silver Award, as well as the first ever Judges Award for Innovation in Sustainability. 

Key Collaborators

Owner: Yale University 
Architect: Centerbrook Architects and Planners, LLC 
Landscape Architect: OLIN Partnership, LTD 
MEP: Arup 
Geothermal Engineer: Haley & Aldrich, Inc. 
Sustainable Design: Atelier Ten