The purpose of this paper is to evaluate how an institution transitions from an emerging design process, with a vague conception of sustainability, to a fully-integrated, value-based sustainable design process. Yale University provides the context for this case study. The paper explores two primary factors to account for this transition: top-down initiatives and modes of inter-project learning. By focusing on Yale’s building program in the period from 2005 to 2012, this paper shows how a variety of institutional forces interact over time to influence sustainability in the design process. The results from this study are valuable to other institutions seeking to emulate Yale’s design successes.