New buildings at UCSB will face higher environmental standards than buildings at any other UC campus, following a decision by the Campus Planning Committee.

The committee voted Tuesday to recommend to Chancellor Henry Yang that university policy be amended to require all new projects be designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “silver” certification standards.

The fact that a vote was held came as a surprise to many in attendance. The issue was originally scheduled for a vote Tuesday but then was tabled until Dec. 16. It appeared on the CPC’s agenda as a discussion item, but after hearing endorsements from students and administrators at the meeting, Assistant Chancellor for Planning Todd Lee asked if anyone objected to taking action. There were no objections and the committee voted unanimously to recommend the amendment to the chancellor. The move will make UCSB the first UC campus to require LEED certification of any kind. The policy will apply to all projects proposed after July 2004.

Ed France, a senior environmental studies major and sustainability chair of Associated Students’ Environmental Affairs Board, spoke in favor of the amendment.

“Nobody expected this,” he said after the meeting. “We are overwhelmingly stoked.”

LEED certification uses a point system to rate a building’s energy efficiency. UCSB’s Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management became the first laboratory building in the United States to achieve a “platinum” rating when it opened in April 2002.

Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services George Pernsteiner opened the discussion before yielding to France.

“I really want to stress how important LEED silver certification is to our students. It’s not this arbitrary point system,” France said. “It’s a way of approaching projects that ensures that the best intentions come out and ensures that buildings are the best they can be.”

Pernsteiner also endorsed the amendment, saying that holding new buildings to these standards would not necessarily make them more expensive.

“Trade-offs made at the time of design typically do not add significantly to the cost of the project,” he said. “Putting the policy in place now says to them, from the beginning, ‘This is our standard, these are our criteria,’ and says to an architect, ‘This is what you design to.'”

Graduate Student Association representative Matthew Andrews said the GSA has long endorsed the policy.

“We pass a resolution every year supporting this,” he said. “Everybody more mature and wiser than me always said, ‘Work now, and it will pay off later.’ This is one situation where the students are telling the people more mature and wiser, ‘Put in the effort now, and it will pay off later.'”