According to the U.S. Green Building Council, UCSB’s San Clemente Village is now the largest, most sustainable housing facility on any college campus in America.

The USBGC ranks energy-efficient, high-performing buildings according to a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification system, which ranges from a simple certification to silver, gold and platinum certification. The council awarded San Clemente – a newly constructed student housing complex along El Colegio Road that offers 973 beds – a gold-level LEED certification for its green design and construction. The complex, which opened last fall, cost $154.8 million to build.

Not just constrained to universities, LEED design and construction standards are used to rate buildings worldwide.

Ron Cortez, asssociate vice chancellor of administrative services, said he was proud of the university’s achievement.

“Many people on campus – the staff, the students, the faculty – all did a perfect job,” Cortez said. “Once again it shows the leadership this campus has on sustainability.”

Executive Director of UCSB’s Housing and Residential Services Wilfred Brown also said the certification was a collective effort between students and administration.

“We started working over 10 years ago with students, staff and faculty to build housing that was affordable but also sustainable,” Brown said.

Tina Mai, a third-year communication major, said the apartments definitely boast many sustainable features.

“All of the furniture is made up of fake wood that’s environmentally friendly,” Mai said. “There are plenty of windows for natural ventilation and the garbage chutes have a team of students that separate all things recyclable from regular old trash.”

According to Brown, who spearheaded the sustainable construction of the housing facility, the building was designed to fit LEED standards.

“From pre-construction to actual construction, we were able to match with LEED’s criteria for green projects,” Brown said.

Such criteria focus on both indoor and outdoor sustainability. They include the reuse of building materials, water use reduction, on-site renewable energy and controllability of temperature and light entering the building.

Surprisingly, Brown said, the construction of San Clemente was intended to only meet LEED silver-level standards. However, he said, cooperative work within the campus community surpassed expectations and led to a higher rating.

“Our original goal was getting LEED silver,” Brown said. “That was our target. But we were able to get a higher level of certification through hard work and finding some other elements along the way … including knowledge and understanding of the LEED criteria.”

According to Cortez, San Clemente’s new certification will ensure that UCSB remains at the forefront of green construction projects.

“The project is a great milestone in that it provides a leadership role to universities around the country,” Cortez said. “It is significant in that it’ll help us continue to raise the bar for sustainability projects.”