"We have had some contractors roll their eyes," Sommer says. "It's a learning process."

In addition, the team has recycled 95% of debris from 42 demolished buildings on site and is sending all drywall scraps back to manufacturers through a new recycling program, he says.

Many methods the team has used to date will apply to future projects on campus, including a conference and office center already in design and renovations to a former Studebaker auto plant, Pitruzzello says. The work will progress based on academic needs and fundraising capacity, he adds.

"The plan is over multiple decades," he says. "The great thing about the plan is it gives us flexibility to move at different paces."