Long-term efforts to make UCSB “greener” are paying off, as a national environmental group recently commended one more campus building for its unique, eco-friendly design.
The new Marine Science Research Building just received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit organization that aims to promote sustainable building design. The structure, which cost $25 million to construct, was awarded the distinction for innovative design in energy and water efficiency.
Gary Banks, project manager for Campus Design & Construction Services, said the building’s environmentally friendly design, which will eventually prevent 1,746,097 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, was what merited recognition from the USGBC.
Banks said the university has purchased enough wind-power energy to power the building for the next two years, eliminating the need to use conventional, nonrenewable fuels. In addition, Banks said the building was designed with many environmentally sustainable features, like restrooms with waterless urinals and dual-flush toilets, which both reduce water consumption.
According to the USGBC website, the LEED Green Building Rating System evaluates buildings based on design, construction and operation in relation to environmental sustainability. It recognizes performance in five key areas: water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, indoor environmental quality and sustainable site development.
“There’s kind of a rigorous application process that gets you credits or points for certain sustainable design features that you incorporate into the building,” Banks said.
Out of four classifications possible, Banks said the MSRB qualified for the USGBC’s basic level of LEED certification. The other three ranks on the organization’s scale – silver, gold and platinum – indicate higher degrees of building sustainability.
Banks said the MSRB is the second campus building to receive LEED certification, preceded only by the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. The Bren structure, he said, was also the first higher education building in the United States to receive a platinum-level certification.
“We’re one of the leaders in the UC system,” Banks said. “Our campus is on the forefront of sustainability.”
In addition, Campus Environmental Coordinator Perrin Pelligren said UCSB recently signed a contract with USGBC to pilot the new LEED portfolio program, which the group hopes will make it easier for other organizations to register multiple buildings for LEED evaluation. UCSB is one of only two universities in the country to participate in the program, she said.
“The new program commits us to certify 25 buildings through the LEED rating system in the next five years,” Pelligren said. “That’s very exciting for us because we took the initiative to dedicating our resources to make that happen.”
Banks said constructing more buildings at UCSB that would qualify for the basic LEED certification would not only help the environment, but would also benefit the university’s long-term budget.
“It is only when you get into the LEED gold level or LEED platinum level that you get some cost impact initially, but you’ll save money over the long run by being more energy efficient,” Banks said.
Pelligren said blueprints for the Student Resource Building, the San Clemente Graduate Student Housing Project and the Education and Social Sciences Building – all currently under construction on campus – were planned to eventually qualify for LEED certification when the structures were designed.