When The Thomas M. Cooley Law School created its Auburn Hills, Mich., campus, it maximized the potential of its opportunity to build a state-of-the-art facility. The result is both visually and technically stunning.
SERF certification has provided Cooley Law School with a cost-effective means to display our commitment to sustainability. SERF’s criteria are practical and accessible and give us a standard for our facilities around the country.
President, Cooley Law School
When Cooley purchased the property, the site was a 67-acre parcel made up of unattractive parking lots, green space, wetlands, and a smaller office building. Located across from Chrysler’s world headquarters, and with immediate access to Interstate Highway 75, the site had great potential, but plenty of issues to overcome. The large Metro-Detroit student population meant that the building would need to nearly double in size.
Large non-structural parts of the existing building were replaced and enhanced with green alternatives like low-VOC paints, efficient lighting, and efficient restroom systems. Cooley retained or recycled most of the structural elements of the existing building. A new wing was attached to the existing building. This wing features a profound use of natural light to illuminate workspaces, while using shading and glass frosting techniques to allow light into classrooms without noticeable outside distractions.
A significant amount of the wall panels, flooring, and carpeting are made from recycled materials. Top-quality, efficient light fixtures and bulbs abound throughout the structure. A significant portion of the first floor of the wing has a vibrant green roof system that collects water and insulates. The rest of the roofing system is coated with a reflective white membrane, with steel and heavy insulation underneath, to maximize heating and cooling efficiency.
Cooley has made commuting easier by having the local bus route stop right at the main entrance to the building. The school has also installed bike racks and outdoor seating made from recycled materials to encourage alternative travel and outdoor use. Cooley also has the campus hooked into its distance education program, so students can receive specialized instruction without leaving campus.
Cooley added 30,000 square feet of wetland to its property and encourages enjoyment of the outdoors with multiple seating areas. The building diverts rain water to the wetlands or one of the rain gardens on the property. The sidewalk is heated and insulated to minimize the use of de-icing substances which could be harmful to the surrounding plant life.
There is a designated smoking area that is enclosed on three sides to funnel smoke away from the nearby forested area. Improvements to the green space continue as Cooley is installing a patio and rain garden, comprised of native species of plant, which will replace an existing lawn area.
The Auburn Hills campus of Cooley Law School is a premiere example of Practical Environmental Stewardship.™ This facility is an excellent example of environmental sustainability in design for educational institutions across the state and country.
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