The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design granted UCSB’s Marine Science Research Building with a Gold certification in its “Existing Building” category last week.

LEED evaluates architecture for its compliance with green design methods and the MSRB was hailed for its integration of renewable materials, drought-tolerant landscape and waterless urinals. While the MSRB is the tenth building to receive LEED certification on campus, it is the first of the UC system’s 52 award-winners to acquire Gold certification for an existing building.

LEED Program Manager Jordan Sager said that, after the environmentally-minded MSRB was first instated, UCSB engineers monitored the building and reduced energy expenditures by 44 percent.

“UCSB’s team of engineers are experts at finding ways to save energy in our campus buildings,” Sager said in an e-mail, “In MSRB, it did not take long for them to conclude that the building was using more energy than it needed to, and that the ventilation system for the labs and offices could be dialed down when nobody was using these spaces.  Several modifications like this now save the building well over $100,000 per year in energy cost.”

Sager said green buildings offer significant energy savings and the extra cost put into construction is relatively minor.

“Consensus is that the marginal cost of a LEED Gold certified building is in the neighborhood of one percent when compared to a conventional, code-compliant facility,” Sager said.

UCSB is one of only three universities nationwide — and the only west coast campus — participating in LEED’s Portfolio Program, which calls on participants to strive for the highest efficiency possible. Ron Cortez, co-chair of the Chancellor’s Campus Sustainability Committee, said UCSB has set a goal to attain 25 LEED certified buildings by the end of 2012, requiring the addition of another 20.

“As of now, we expect to certify the entire portfolio on schedule,” Cortez said.

According to Bruce Tiffney, dean and co-chair of the College of Creative Studies, previous UCSB structures had a mandatory standard for LEED Silver, but buildings commissioned after the summer of 2011 must meet a minimum standard of Gold.