Topic: College of Architecture and Planning

February 10, 2022


Ball State University played a key role in Cope Environmental Center earning a unique status that only 28 other buildings worldwide have received. The Centerville, Indiana, center has been awarded “Living Building Certification“ by the International Living Future Institute.

Earning this special certification is the result, in large part, of multi-year collaborative efforts that included Ball State faculty and students; Cope Environmental Center staff; and the design architect, Kevin McCurdy, a graduate of Ball State’s R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning (CAP). Mr. McCurdy is a partner at LWC Incorporated. He works in the firm’s Richmond, Indiana, location.

Living Building Certification is issued in recognition of the achievement of the highest proficiency in the categories of Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty. Overall, some 20 imperatives had to be met during the design, construction, and occupation of the facility. Cope Environmental Center is the only building in Indiana to have ever pursued this standard of net-positive achievement, according to Robert J. Koester, Ball State professor of Architecture and director of Ball State’s Academy for Sustainability and Center for Energy Research/Education/Service (CERES).

“The design and construction of the Cope Environmental Center as a Living Building has been a delightful experience for everyone involved, including an enlightened client staff, a superbly-educated design architect, a technically knowledgeable group of Ball State faculty and students, and a very supportive local community,” Professor Koester said. “The participating students especially appreciated the opportunity for this real-world experience—a hallmark of the many such immersive learning engagements available through Ball State University.”

Contributors to this collaboration were:

  • Cope Environmental Center staff, including:
    • Alison Zajdel, Kaitlyn Blanset, and Holly Miller
  • Ball State’s CERES faculty, staff, and students, including:
    • Professsor Koester, CERES operations manager (ret.) Jeff Culp, and CERES research assistants and CAP graduates Lauren McWhorter and Ben Grayson.
From design conceptualization, to construction, to completion, and to occupancy, Cope Environmental Center took 10 years to finish. The center was completed in 2021. The Living Building Certification was granted at the end of 2021.