King Abdullah University for Science and Technology

Building one of the largest universities in the world located in one of the harshest environments created an opportunity for an innovative sustainable design approach. Located in Saudia Arabia, King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) is the country’s first LEED certified project. The 8 million square foot project is one of the largest to receive LEED Platinum Certification and was recognized as an AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Green Projects.

KAUST was established to encourage research and inspire innovation in energy and the environment. The university is walking the walk and serves as a model for environmental stewardship in creating a low-energy, highly sustainable campus. The project team used several sustainable strategies from local traditions and culture. One campus feature was inspired by passive ventilation strategies of the traditional Arabic house. Taking advantage of the campus’s adjacency to the Red Sea, the laboratory buildings are oriented toward the water. The labs are joined by large open corridors that have sixty meters tall solar chimneys located at the end, like traditional barjeels. As the air in the chimneys heat-up and rise, sea breezes are pulled through the corridors naturally cooling the space.