By Daimon Eklund | Jul 12, 2017

The University of Washington's new West Campus Utility Plant (WCUP) has received an Envision Gold award from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI). The Envision system rates sustainable infrastructure projects across the full range of environmental, social, and economic impacts.

The recently completed plant near the corner of University Way and Pacific Street provides cooling and emergency power to energy-intensive research buildings in the southwestern corner of the University of Washington campus, and will accomodate the expected growth and development of the West campus area called for in the campus master plan. The plant incorporates many sustainability features in its operations and interaction with the surrounding landscape.

The WCUP is the first certified Envision Gold project at any higher education institution, and the first building to be certified at any college or university. ISI identified several key sustainability accomplishments of the plant which went into recieving the Envision Gold award, including campus leadership; the landscape design that includes natural rain gardens and enhanced pedestrian infrastructure; and measures to prevent pollutants from contaminating surface and groundwater. The plant's centralized operations improve efficiency and responsiveness, allowing to UW use less energy to provide cooling, and the plant also includes an automated air monitoring system that can adjust the level of cooling based on the air temperature outside.

“This was an extremely collaborative process with all of our partners here at the University as well as those in the construction community,” said Associate Vice President for Facilities Services Charles Kennedy. “Ultimately, that collaboration led to the successful completion of this project.”

The plant also includes several elements to help tell the story of sustainability at the plant and across the UW, including a series of video displays mounted inside the large windows facing University Way. These video screens will share UW’s sustainability stories through student-designed graphics and video.

“The West Campus Utility Plant at the University of Washington is an excellent example of thinking differently about necessary infrastructure, such as a utility plant, and turning it into a more sustainable, aesthetically pleasing, and character enhancing project that benefits the community,” said ISI President and CEO John Stanton. “This project is testament to the University’s commitment to sustainability, and will serve the needs of the campus for decades to come. ISI is pleased to present this project with the Envision Gold award for sustainable infrastructure.”

For more information visit:

Envision Gold announcement from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure

UW Facilities Services blog post with information on the plant's operations and design

UW Sustainability blog post on WCUP's sustainability messaging features