People think a lot of things when they first see the headquarters of the Ca' Forscari University of Venice. It is a 15th-century Gothic palazzo that sits on a prime piece of real estate overlooking the famous Grand Canal. Like many similar buildings in Venice, this one is as impressive for its timeless atmosphere as it is for its historic design. But Ca' Forscari has another distinction that sets it apart from the rest: it is the oldest building to ever receive LEED certification.
Renovations and upgrades to reduce its carbon footprint and become more energy-efficient are a part of the university’s overall sustainability efforts. These efforts are hardly a bid for publicity. Rising sea levels associated with global warming directly affect Venice and threaten the very survival of the historic buildings that now sit at water level along the canals. So in taking up the cause of sustainability, the university is, in a way, championing its own cause as well.