Students of the LEED Lab course spent the school year learning the process of certifying the Student Resource Building (SRB), shown above.

Students of the LEED Lab course spent the school year learning the process of certifying the Student Resource Building (SRB), shown above.

UCSB is growing a reputation in its sustainable practices, recently being named by the Princeton Review as the third-greenest campus in the country. This recognition, however, is not being made without proper measure: The institution’s commitment to green building is evidenced by their increasing cooperation with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (L.E.E.D.) program, which has already certified 23 of UCSB’s buildings on campus.

The L.E.E.D. certification program was created by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2000, and has a new policy that mandates new building projects to meet L.E.E.D. Gold standards. Having this policy in place means that the Sierra Madre and San Joaquin student apartments currently under construction on Storke Road will feature green design practices. These will not be the only freshman dorms L.E.E.D. certified, as Santa Cruz Hall had just received its accreditation after a renovation last summer. Historically, Bren Hall was the first building in the nation to earn two L.E.E.D. Platinum certifications for new construction and existing buildings, and more are on the way with the addition of the bioengineering building and new renovations to the Davidson library.

This year, a new environmental studies lab is being developed and taught by the UCSB environmental studies alumni Cassidy Green and Brandon Kaysen. The premier class, a group of 20 upper division environmental studies students and a couple of Bren graduate students, has spent the last year working on L.E.E.D.-certifying the Student Resources Building (SRB).

The students broke up into groups and each took responsibility for one of the six L.E.E.D. credit categories: location and transportation, sustainable sites, energy and atmosphere, water efficiency, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality. The year-long class gives students a hands-on opportunity to participate in the L.E.E.D. certification process. The students, self-directed and coordinating with the SRB Operations Team, spent the past year evaluating and improving the SRB’s systems and operating practices to make them more efficient and sustainable.

In the fall, students first forged relationships with stakeholders in the SRB certification project, which included the facilities staff and SRB Operations Team. The initial meeting, known as the “L.E.E.D. Charette,” is the first step to embarking on any L.E.E.D. project. Here, the students laid out their primary assessment on a number of credit categories with a plan to meet the standards for each individual credit.

In Winter Quarter, the project underwent a 90-day performance period, during which a comprehensive analysis of SRB’s facilities took place. Students assessed everything from faucet pressure to lighting fixtures, airflow to ventilation. A building comfort survey of all the SRB’s regular occupants was also conducted, including a brief sample survey that inquired of visitors’ mode of transportation to the building.

Relating the experience of accommodating and collaborating with the L.E.E.D. project this year, the SRB Operations Team said, “We had an extremely positive experience working with the students of the L.E.E.D. lab team. They conducted themselves as true professionals, answering all of our questions and following up with us on various projects in order to help the Student Resource Building reach the highest L.E.E.D. rating possible. It was clear from the time, dedication and effort they put into the process that these students truly care about making the SRB a model of sustainability for our campus. It was an honor to work with the L.E.E.D. lab team, and we are so excited to see where their hard work takes us as we await the final certification results.”

Now, in spring, the students’ project has been submitted for review by the Green Building Certification Institute. L.E.E.D. lab students are spending the remainder of quarter preparing for the L.E.E.D. Green Associate (GA) exam, passage through which grants the accreditation necessary to be hired as a consultant on various green building projects. Recently, The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) endowed a student-drafted proposal for a L.E.E.D. exam scholarship fund, providing financial support for students with backgrounds in green building design.

The L.E.E.D. lab team is hoping that the SRB will receive a score high enough to gain L.E.E.D. Platinum status, exceeding their initial goal of the L.E.E.D.’s Gold certification.  The class will be hearing back about their project at the end of June.