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Undergrads Get a Greener Home Away From Home

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 17:00
Santa Barbara, CA

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The project includes the replacement of old building elements with sustainable and less toxic materials.

The project includes the replacement of old building elements with sustainable and less toxic materials.

Photo Credit: 

Sonia Fernandez

More efficient lighting, improved ventilation, new windows, furniture, and carpet, and upgraded heating and cooling systems are among the things that will greet UC Santa Barbara students living in Anacapa Hall, as contractors scramble to put the final touches on the latest building on campus to be renovated to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Efficient Design) Gold certification. The renovation of the undergraduate residence hall will be the 45th LEED-constructed building at UCSB, which has the most LEED-certified buildings among all UC campuses.

"UCSB has, in this area, been a leader, and has worked to maintain its reputation for sustainable building design and sustainable development," said Jordan Sager, LEED program manager at UCSB's Department of Physical Facilities. As a result of the continuing LEED effort and the campus's Strategic Energy Program, said Sager, energy use, despite new construction and increased population, has dropped by about 20 percent per square foot of built space over the past 10 years.

Over the summer, beginning the moment students moved out of the residence hall, crews have stripped down the walls, knocked out the windows, and gutted the ceiling of the 60-year-old building –– one of the three original residence halls on the UCSB campus. They replaced the old elements with new, energy efficient, less toxic, and renewable materials. The upgrades will be completed by move-in weekend. Anacapa Hall is the second of the three buildings to become LEED-certified; Santa Rosa Hall was completed last year, and Santa Cruz Hall is up for renovation next summer. The improvements for the three residence halls are estimated to cost $5-6 million each.

"The primary driver was that there was a need to update the fire alarm and add a new sprinkler system," Sager said. From there, the project grew in size and scope to include the various improvements that will bring the building up to LEED Gold standards, which include a 30 percent energy efficiency gain over the California building code requirements. New carpets and wall paint emit lower toxic volatile compounds, new LED (light-emitting diode) lights don't generate as much heat or use as much energy as the previous lighting, and double-paned glass is a better insulator against uncomfortably cold or hot temperatures.

All of the old hall furniture was donated to the I.V. GIVE sale, student co-op housing, and most of it will be refurbished and reused. While safety and energy efficiency are among the primary goals of the renovations, comfort and aesthetics are also given consideration.

LEED is a program administered by the U.S. Green Building Council in an effort to encourage energy and water efficiency; improve indoor environmental quality; use recycled, renewable, and locally available materials; and optimize the way the building and its site interact with the surrounding area. Within each category, points are assigned for the use of different design measures, material choices, or construction practices, the accumulation of which leads to one of four levels of certification. While the UC systemwide goal trends toward Silver certification (50 to 59 points), UCSB has managed to consistently attain Gold certification (60 to 79 points).

"Bren (Hall) was the first building in the UC system to achieve LEED certification," Sager said. The environmental science and management school facility was built to LEED Double Platinum certification in 2002, the nation's first building to achieve that level of sustainability. In 2009, Bren Hall was recertified LEED Platinum.

Bren Hall's construction was followed by several new buildings built to LEED standards, including the Marine Science Research Building, San Clemente Villages, and Engineering II, as well as several renovations of existing buildings. The newest building, the Ocean Science Education Building, is in the process of a LEED Gold certification application, and Sager anticipates the same for the ongoing Davidson Library and upcoming Santa Cruz residence hall renovations, as well as the new Sierra Madre apartments.

UCSB Sustainability

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