UT Austin Celebrates Dense, Sustainable Development

Dell Medical School's Health Learning Building

The Health Learning Building Sheds Light onto the Spiral of the Galaxy Plaza filled with Transplanted, Large Live Oaks

AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin celebrates one of the most dense and diverse collections of green-certified buildings in the United States: the new health district that encompasses the Dell Medical School and the Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas.

After five years of planning and construction, two buildings in the health district have received Gold certification for LEED New Construction, one has received Gold certification in LEED Core and Shell, and the teaching hospital is on track to receive Gold in LEED Healthcare from Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) and the U.S. Green Building Council. In addition, the 16.2-acre landscape developed for the health district—an area that includes Waller Creek—is has received one of the first Sustainable SITES Gold designations in Texas, and the utility infrastructure built in conjunction with the district garnered the first PEER Campus designation in the world in 2014.

“The University of Texas has been committed to high-performance green buildings since 2009, and by the end of this year our campus will have over 3.6 million square feet of LEED-certified buildings,” said David Rea, associate vice president for campus planning and project management. “We are excited to see the achievement of several LEED Gold projects in the health district.”

Sustainability in building design was a key element throughout the development and construction of the new health district, and was first established as a goal in an update to the university’s Campus Masterplan in 2012. Construction for all three Dell Medical School buildings was funded by The University of Texas System. Construction of the Dell Seton Medical Center at UT, a new teaching hospital, was funded by Seton Healthcare Family, part of Ascension.

  • Health Learning Building – certified Gold for LEED new construction, this building achieves 44% energy savings throughout 85,000 square feet
  • Health Discovery Building – certified Gold for LEED new construction
  • Health Transformation Building – certified Gold for LEED core and shell
  • Dell Seton Medical Center – on track to receive certification for Gold for LEED health care and a 4-star Austin Energy Green Building rating
  • The University of Texas Utility Infrastructure – PEER Campus designation in 2014, the first in the world, with the addition of 15,000 ton Chilling Station 7 and a 4 million gallon thermal storage tank to support the energy and infrastructure needs of the Health District. 
  • Landscape Design – Gold certified in Sustainable SITES, one of the first designations in Texas, including removing invasive plants and restoring native species along Waller Creek, improving storm water drainage, and improving outdoor irrigation needs.

“Using design to enhance sustainability is what the LEED-certification system is all about, and that certainly resonates here as we use design to create a sustainable health care system,” said Clay Johnston, dean of the Dell Medical School. “While the planning and construction of this complex began before I arrived on campus, the forward-thinking green construction aligns perfectly with our vision to rethink everything about health care.”


Author: Kristin Elise Phillips, Communications Coordinator, Office of Sustainability