When the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management Studies needed a permanent home to settle in to, faculty members from across the campus drafted an ambitious plan to make the new building like no other.

Nine years later, the new Donald Bren Hall will be the “greenest” building in California. The Bren building, located adjacent to the Biology II science building, is scheduled for opening in January of 2002.

Developers designed the building to conserve power by using energy-efficient light bulbs and harvesting natural light. Much of the furnishings – including the carpet, insulation, counters and furniture – were made from recycled materials. Reclaimed water will be used in the toilets and for irrigation purposes. Offices on the side of the ocean will be cooled by a ventilation system of air from operable windows.

“The Bren Hall is the only building in the U.S. with a gold rating, which is given by the U.S. Green Building Council, and will strive for a platinum rating by its opening in January,” said Mo Lovegreen, the assistant dean for planning and administration.

The USGBC reviewed 40 buildings in the country and certified only 12 of the 40, Dean of the Bren School Dennis Aigner said. To receive certification, a building must meet the standards set by the council, which gives bronze, silver, gold and platinum ratings.

The new building will include a lab wing, a central courtyard, faculty/staff offices and teaching rooms. Research conducted in the building will include experiments in hydrology, theoretical ecology and biogeography.

Once completed, Bren Hall will likely serve as a model for buildings at the UC Merced campus, said Gary Matteson, UC director of planning and energy. Developers will look at what does and does not work for the new campus, which will open in 2004.

“The UCs are aggressively pursuing more ‘green’ buildings and will try to beat the [environmental building] guidelines set by the state,” Matteson said.

Twenty-two million dollars was allocated for the funding of Bren Hall and it took less than 2 percent of the funds to help the building receive a gold rating, according to Lovegreen.

A two-day parade beginning October 21 will start at Bren Hall with a tour of the building. Afterwards, participants will be bussed to various buildings around Santa Barbara known for their “green” designs.