Dana Building, University of Michigan

This photo shows the building's front facade, facing the main quad.


  • Location: Ann Arbor, MI
  • Building type(s): Higher education
  • 25% new construction, 75% renovation of a historic 1903 building, last renovated in 1961
  • 108,000 ft2 (10,000 m2)
  • Project scope: 5-story building
  • Urban setting
  • Completed February 2003
  • Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED-NC, v.2/v.2.1--Level: Gold (40 points)

The S.T. Dana Building is a 100-year-old academic building that houses the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) at the University of Michigan. In the 1990s, SNRE began planning for a major renovation to the structure. This project had two primary goals: to create a comfortable place to learn and work and to demonstrate state-of-the-art green design. The renovation resulted in a building where environmental principles are not only taught but also upheld and demonstrated to the community.

The $25 million project included the transformation of an open courtyard into a light-filled atrium with some infill construction as well as the addition of a fifth floor.

Environmental Aspects

The project team retained the building's original structure and shell as well as more than half of the original interior elements. Bricks, attic timbers, and old windows and doors were reused throughout the building, diverting these materials from landfills. Southern-yellow-pine attic timbers, for example, were made into conference tables and wood trim.

The project team selected new materials to reduce environmental impacts. These products include flooring made from recycled rubber, ceiling panels made from rapidly renewable materials, bathroom tiles made from recycled glass, and toilet partitions made from recycled plastic bottles.

Thanks to the extensive daylighting, in addition to increased insulation, high-efficiency lighting, and one of the first ceiling-mounted radiant cooling systems in the U.S., the building was anticipated to use 30% less energy than a comparable, conventional building. Two types of photovoltaic panels on the building roof allow students and researchers to compare the performance of thin-film and multicrystalline solar panels.

Low-flow plumbing fixtures, composting toilets, and waterless urinals significantly reduce the project's water use. Outside, landscaping with native, drought-resistant plants eliminated the need for irrigation.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by the Regents of the University of Michigan, State government
  • Typically occupied by 105 people, 40 hours per person per week; and 550 visitors per week, 20 hours per visitor per week

Permanent occupants include 55 staff members and 50 faculty members. Visitors include Ph.D., Master's, and undergraduate students in addition to traditional visitors. The number of students varies each year, while staff and faculty remain fairly constant.

Building Programs

Indoor Spaces:

Classroom (36%), Office (31%), Laboratory (18%), Public assembly (11%), Restrooms (4%)


Integrated team, Green framework, Green specifications, Indigenous vegetation, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Wastewater treatment, Insulation levels, HVAC, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, On-site renewable electricity, Benign materials, Salvaged materials, Recycled materials, Certified wood, C&D waste management, Occupant recycling, Daylighting, Ventilation effectiveness, Thermal comfort

Photo credit: Christopher Cambell

next topic:
Go to next topic: Process
Last updated: 10/23/2007

Case Studies Database provided by the U.S. Department of Energy's
Building Technology Program, High Performance Buildings.

Submit your green design project. Follow the directions here.


Denver, CO

Las Vegas, NV