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Chicago Botanic Garden Earns Platinum LEED Rating for Learning Center

Receives highest certification level and is home to Regenstein School of the Chicago Botanic Garden

Gloria Ciaccio
(847) 835-6819

Release Date: 
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

GLENCOE, IL (April 11, 2017) — The Chicago Botanic Garden has earned the top rating of Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for the Learning Center on the Regenstein Learning Campus. It is the first LEED Platinum-certified building named in the Chicago area in 2017. Out of 51,875 projects in the United States that earned LEED status since 2004, only 10.7 percent have been awarded “platinum” recognition, the highest certification level available.

“We are an organization that cares deeply about conservation and sustainability. When it comes to our buildings, we embrace energy-efficient practices that mitigate environmental impact,” said Jean M. Franczyk, president and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden.

The 26,700-square-foot Learning Center, which opened in September 2016, received points in seven categories including sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy & atmosphere, material & resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation and design process and regional priority credits.

Photo Gallery of Regenstein Learning Campus images
Regenstein Learning Campus Press Kit

Points earned include the following: 

Innovation and Design Process

The Garden earned all six points in this category. Special windows were installed to deter bird collisions. The Garden maximized the use of open space, and renewable energy, and instituted a green cleaning policy. Ninety-five percent of construction waste was diverted. 

Energy and Atmosphere

The Garden earned 35 out of a possible 35 points for this category. Solar photovoltaic panels on the roof of the building provide 16 percent of the power needed to operate the Learning Center. Energy-efficient lighting, mechanical equipment, insulation of exterior walls and roof, windows made with bird-protection glass that are low-E and high-performance, and air lock vestibules at main entrances contributed points towards the Platinum LEED certification. The building received 19 credits for optimized energy performance by providing a 48 percent energy cost reduction from a standard “classroom” building.  

Sustainable Sites

·               Site Selection, Development Density and Community Connectivity

·               Alternative Transportation: No additional parking spaces were added; bike racks and changing room encourage biking to work.

·               Site Development: The design of the building maximizes open space. The erosion and sedimentation plan involved silt fencing, sediment traps and basins to prevent pollution of the surrounding area.   

·               Stormwater Design: Rainwater is captured and used to water gardens. 

·               Heat Island Effect: Reduction of heat absorption due to light-colored materials in paving and roofing. 

·               Light Pollution Reduction

Water Efficiency

A rainwater capture and storage system collects rainwater from the building’s roof. The water is used for watering the gardens that surround the building. No potable water is used for irrigation. The building uses 40 percent less water through the use of low-flow plumbing fixtures and valves.

Materials and Resources

Ninety-five percent of construction waste was diverted from disposal. Regional and recycled building materials were used.

Indoor Environmental Quality

The building provides views and natural daylight to 90 percent of the regularly occupied spaces through the use of ribbon windows throughout and light scoops in the public and classroom spaces on the first floor. Lighting control systems were installed in all rooms to turn off and dim lights when spaces are unoccupied or if there is sufficient daylight in the space.

Paints and coatings, adhesives and sealants and composite wood and agrifiber products were selected to have no or low Volatile Organic Compounds. Ductwork parts were kept sealed before installation so that they would be clean and dust free when installed.

The Learning Center was designed by Booth Hansen & Associates, a full-service Chicago architecture, interior design and planning firm founded in 1980 by architect Laurence Booth. Experts from the Rocky Mountain Institute provided sustainability input. Renowned landscape architect Mikyoung Kim provided the concept vision for the Nature Play Garden; Jacobs/Ryan Associates adapted the design, which incorporates native plants. ESD was the MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) engineer; Gewalt Hamilton Associates was the civil engineer; Turner Construction was the contractor.


Editors, please note: For digital images, contact Jasmine Leonas at (847) 835-6829 or at

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