Green ways earn Moody Center Silver status

Rice University’s Moody Center for the Arts recently earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It is the 12th building at Rice to receive recognition through the program.

Moody Center for the Arts first birthday

LEED certification is an internationally recognized standard for the design, construction and operation of eco-friendly buildings. It is awarded to projects designed and built to universally accepted criteria for energy efficiency, material conservation, water efficiency, indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. There are four levels of certification — Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum — determined by the number of points a project earns. Rice originally committed that all new construction would achieve LEED certification in 2006 and raised that commitment to achieving Silver certification in 2008.

“LEED continues to be an important tool for Rice as we try to minimize our environmental impact as an institution,” said Richard Johnson ’92, director of Rice’s Administrative Center for Sustainability and Energy Management. “In my view, Rice’s values — responsibility, integrity, community and excellence — are outstanding environmental values, and our commitment to LEED flows from these values.”

The Moody, a 50,000-square-foot facility designed by Los Angeles-based architect Michael Maltzan that opened in 2017, contains exhibition space, a makerspace, a black box theater and classrooms, among other features. It serves as an experimental platform for creating and presenting works in all disciplines, a flexible teaching space and a forum for creative partnerships with visiting artists as well as the Houston arts community.

Moody Center

Among the attributes that earned the Moody Center its Silver status were:

* Site selection. The Moody is located on the site of the former Jake Hess Tennis Stadium and associated parking space, preserving green space. Additional green spaces were introduced, and the paving from the site was recycled during preparation for construction.

* Transit connection. The Moody is easily accessible by bicycle (including a nearby BCycle station, part of Houston’s bicycle-sharing network), the Rice shuttle bus system and Houston METRO light rail and bus service.

* Water conservation. The design team took steps to reduce water consumption and cut usage about 34 percent versus standard practices.

* Energy efficiency. The Moody’s design reduced energy use by almost 25 percent compared with standard practices. This was achieved in part by using high-efficacy lighting and LEDs where possible, by exceeding the 2009 International Energy Code for minimum insulation performance, the installation of a central air-handling unit that features efficient energy-saving motors and a reflective roof.

* Emphasis on renewable energy. Rice is committed to becoming “carbon neutral” to minimize its impact on climate change. The Moody receives 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources in Texas.

* Indoor air quality. During construction, an indoor air-quality management plan was followed and a flush of the building was performed to remove irritants. The team used carpet, paint, glues, sealants and coatings that minimized the release of chemicals.

* Recycling. Many of the materials used in construction contained a high percentage of recycled content, including the steel, and 83 percent of construction and demolition waste was recycled.

The Moody’s design team worked in an integrated and collaborative process to achieve a series of environmental goals for the building. The architect, contractor, engineer, LEED consultant and other key team members worked in partnership with Rice on the design and provided feedback to each other on the full range of design and construction issues, including those related to sustainability and LEED certification. This helped to ensure that sustainable design considerations were integrated across the entire project and that each team member had a stake in reaching the project’s certification goal.

“We are delighted that the Moody has earned a LEED Silver status,” said Alison Weaver, the Suzanne Deal Booth Executive Director of the Moody Center. “The timing is perfect, as it complements our upcoming program featuring composer Matthew Burtner and the collaborative EcoSono. Together with Rice’s Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences’ Cultures of Energy symposium, the Moody will present a multimedia performance by Burtner that addresses climate change and the role the arts can play in shaping conversations around the future of the planet.”

The Moody was made possible by a lead gift from the Texas-based Moody Foundation, a charitable organization with an emphasis on education, social services, children’s needs and community development, with additional support from the Brown Foundation, the Elkins Foundation, the Gilder Foundation, Rice alumni Nancy ‘80 and Clint Carlson ’79 and other donors. Additional support for programs and operations came from contributions from Rice alumna Suzanne Deal Booth ‘77, alumni Leslie ‘69 and Brad Bucher ‘65 and many others.

The Moody Center for the Arts is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit

To learn more about sustainability and green building at Rice, visit

About Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is a senior editor in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.