IES combines a rigorous academic and research program with student housing, sustainable agriculture, and clean energy production facilities to create a unique and transformative educational experience. The 215,000 sf complex is a multi-disciplinary, research-based facility that includes classrooms, research and teaching labs, a clean energy lab, an aquaponic farming display, and a greenhouse. The facility also includes a freshman and sophomore dormitory, along with a café and recreation areas, all of which are integrated into IES activities and environmental systems.
The inclusive programming and planning approach fosters interdisciplinary interactions between academic disciplines, student social groups, and the local community. IES recalls the Jeffersonian Academical Village of integrated living and learning by combining student residential living spaces with experiential learning facilities. Traditional classrooms and student housing are linked with an innovative passive greenhouse learning space that engages students to live sustainably in an urban environment, showcases urban farming, and harvests building thermal energy from Chicago?s largest integrated hybrid geothermal building system. The design integrates these different program elements and results in a Net Zero Ready community. Sustainable building strategies include natural ventilation, geothermal heating and cooling, rain water collection, grey water systems, green roofs and living walls.
The iconic focal point of the $50,000,000 IES is the greenhouse, which acts as a link between the residential, academic and social programs of the Institute, and is an active and flexible learning laboratory. The enclosure of the greenhouse is shaped to assist natural ventilation, reducing the need for mechanical heating and cooling in the adjacent spaces, and provides a year-long winter garden for the community. The form also facilitates rain water harvesting, which is used to irrigate the plants in the greenhouse, which in turn provides produce for the café. The building was open for use and occupancy in August of 2013.