Open for Business: Sustainable High Performance Design at Clemson University’s New College of Business

The higher education market has seen substantial shifts in teaching pedagogy in recent years. When design began for Clemson University’s College of Business in 2015, Clemson wanted to create academic and faculty space with a greater emphasis on collaboration and critical thinking. In keeping with the University’s sustainability goals, Clemson also wanted the project to achieve ambitious targets to improve building performance, reduce environmental impacts, and create healthier spaces for building users.

The University elected to use the Green Globes rating system due to its interactive approach. Green Globes assigns third party assessors to review project documentation during the design phase and conduct an in-person verification site visit at the construction completion.   From the beginning, the College of Business targeted Two Green Globes.  At the 90%  Design Review, the project team explored a few additional strategies such as photovoltaics, sheltered bike racks, and changes in return air plenums to push the project to Three Green Globes;  however, the cost to alter the design at that stage of the project was prohibitive.

After the final assessment in August, amongst the angst of students returning to school in an unusual fall, the team was delighted to find that the project still received Certification of Three Green Globes, equivalent to 72% achievement of applicable credits.  Sustainable fundamentals for the College of Business included:  energy efficiency, maintenance efficiency, sensitivity to solar heat gain and glare, attention to site context, stormwater management, indigenous landscaping, and attention to interior views outward to the adjacent historical grounds.

Unique characteristics of this project included:


  • bioswales to contain water at the top of a steeply sloped site
  • permeable pavers at the street-level plaza
  • creative use of the steep grade to aid in pedestrian traffic through the site from housing to academic quads
  • use of drought- and heat-tolerant native plants in the landscaping


  • connection to Clemson’s Central Energy Plant which recirculates its water into Lake Hartwell
  • heat gain mitigation with use of Solarban 90 glazing
  • LED lighting throughout with occupancy sensors and lighting controls.
  • energy modeling, which predicts significant energy savings for the building.

Materials and Resources:

  • Life Cycle Analysis and documented use of Environmental Product Declarations for interior finishes
  • Reclaimed wood from trees site trees which arborists deemed near the end of life, kiln dried and cut for special interior finishes: donor walls, Dean’s suite flooring, tabletops in the café, and bench seating

Interior Environment:

  • glare control through electrochromic glazing in the five- story atrium along the southern exposure and operable window treatments throughout the project
  • wood slat paneling with integrated sound insulation board in the atrium, which keeps the space intimate.

The project is intended to anchor a new node of campus activity within its precinct; as such, the design engages pedestrians with street-level activity and generous visual connections between the interior and exterior. The interior layout likewise prioritizes sharing the “big views” in the building’s most public spaces. The building is of-the-moment, yet rooted in the context of the campus and its rich traditions; the goal is an enduring design which continues to serve the University and its students for many generations.

About Cindy

Cindy Benjamin has been a project manager for the last 14 years. To each project, Cindy brings focus to detail, team organization, and technical knowledge. She has worked on a wide variety of project types, including healthcare, higher education, and faith-based projects. She enjoys design challenges and is energized by the attention to detail required for complex programs including mixed-use projects. She has a particular passion for renovating existing buildings and stitching together patterns in built environments. Cindy coordinates project resources across the LS3P Greenville Office, serving internally as Greenville Office Financial Manager.

Cindy is involved in her local community and devotes her time to several organizations.  In 2009, Cindy was awarded the Young Professional of the Year Award by the Greenville Chamber and previously has served as a Greenville Chamber Board Member. She is a past board member for Safe Harbor, an agency working to overcome domestic violence. Most recently, Cindy was the project manager for Clemson University’s College of Business, Greenville Technical College’s Center for Manufacturing Innovation, Tri-County Technical College’s Student Success Center, and the Clemson University MBA upfit at Greenville One in downtown Greenville. She currently sits on the Board for Greenville Professional Women’s Forum and the Board for ULI Upstate South Carolina.