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School of International Service

LEED Gold certified

AU's First LEED-Certified Building

The School of International Service (SIS), which earned LEED Gold Certification in 2011, was designed by architect Bill McDonough. SIS was the first building on American University's campus to earn LEED certification. The building reinforces the school's commitments to advancing ecological stewardship, preserving transparency and human dignity, and working for social justice.

SIS was established in 1957 in response to President Dwight D. Eisenhower's request for universities to create schools to prepare the next generation of foreign policy officials. President Eisenhower embraced American University's idea of a school focused on human-centered international affairs. The original SIS building was located in what is now the East Quad Building. After fifty-three years in the East Quad Building, the university began planning a new building to house the School of International Service in 2004. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new building took place in 2007 and was completed in 2010.

Learn more about SIS LEED features in the case study.

Green Features

  • SIS uses 30% less water than the average building by utilizing low flow, ENERGY STAR faucets and fixtures, dual-flush toilets, and waterless urinals.

  • The building's floorplan takes advantage of natural light. The use of fixed solar shades on the building's exterior allow daylight to enter the building while minimizing the heat gain from the sun and reducing the energy needed for lighting and cooling.

  • Rooftop solar hot water heating systems heats the water used in the restrooms and coffee shop. Photovoltaic solar panels cover 3,230 square feet of the roof, providing 20% of the electricity used in SIS.

  • More than 20% of the materials used were made of recycled products and 75% of the waste produced was diverted from landfill.

  • Improved indoor environmental quality reduces occupants' stress and increases productivity by providing comfortable spaces. The day lit multi-level atrium encourages gathering and discussion. Classrooms have abundant windows and are equipped with adjustable shades for easy control over brightness and glare.

  • Plants featured throughout the SIS landscape are local and adaptive species and reduce the environmental impact of landscaping by thriving on less irrigation and requiring minimal use of pesticides and herbicides.

  • A green roof and a nearby bioswale reduce stormwater runoff. A ground level green roof over underground parking and reflective white roofing help reduce the heat island effect.