Monday, July 27, 2009

California's Universities LEEDing the Way in Green Building: Event Hosted by UC Santa Barbara Marks 8th Annual UC/CSU/CCC Sustainability Conference

Posted by Shannon Avison (DRN Intern)

A little less than a month ago, from June 21st-24th, UC Santa Barbara hosted the 8th annual UC/CSU/CCC Sustainability Conference. This event served as a meeting ground for collaboration and discussion of trends, hurdles and cutting edge technologies promoting sustainability under the heading "Working our way to Zero: potable water for landscapes, volatile organic compounds, GHG emissions, virgin paper, waste. The event included tours, workshops, and keynote addresses as well as smaller presentations identified as "tracks" on energy, food systems, green building new construction, green building operations, maintenance, and renovations, health, sustainability and climate action planning, business, social equity, student affairs, waste reduction and recycling, and water.

This event demonstrates the continuing commitment of California universities towards sustainability and eco-minded applications. Highlights from the green building tracks included talks within Green Building New Construction where a UC Davis professor describes his experience with the Brewery, Winery, and Foot Pilot Building and how it relates to the role of an academic client. A Stanford presenter examines the new Yang and Yamazaki Environment + Energy Building (Y2E2), a lab, classroom, and office building through a cost-benefit analysis.

And lastly, project managers of the UC San Francisco Green Building Team discuss steps taken within Capital Programs striving for both LEED certification and LEED Silver status or higher on all projects thereby promoting a "business as usual" green building ethic. In another presentation, with the management of a $5.7 Billlion construction bond program, the San Diego Community College District promotes LEED districtwide with its Green Building Policy and Major Renovation Standards and likewise the California State University Program for Environmental Responsibility has developed an integrated building design approach to be implemented statewide.

Further presentations identifying sustainable practices in green building were present in the Green Building Operation, Maintenance, and Renovation Track. Talk highlights included discussions around sustainable operations for LEEDTM for Existing Buildings, Operations & Maintenance (LEED EBOM). Case studies were presented, exemplifying how UC Santa Barbara has approached the greening of its building portfolio, with both new, LEED Platinum rated Bren Hall, and existing buildings, LEED Certified Girvetz Hall. UC San Diego has also promoted sustainable practices through encouraging students to be activists through establishing their Green Campus Program where they provide opportunities for students on LEED project teams. The UC Policy on Sustainable Practices was also identified which mandates all UC renovation projects exceeding a $5 million budget to maintain at least the equivalent of a LEEDTM for Commercial Interiors Certified rating. Specific case studies of the green building progress made by UC Davis and UC San Francisco, using the LEEDTM CI system were identified as well. The last presentation identified The Building Sustainability @ Cal Program which works to reduce the environmental footprint of campus buildings through using students to raise awareness of building inhabitants and identifying structural and operational changes that can be implemented in buildings and campus-wide. At UC Santa Barbara, a program called PACES analyzes present office methods and makes recommendations to allow for evolution towards current achievable sustainable office standards from student groups.

This annual Sustainability Conference continues to perpetuate the green building movement within both California universities and the green building sector as a whole through education, research, and implementation of current LEED and green building practices. It is through this commitment to education and green building which not only promotes creative thinking about green building, but also allows a broader application of green building techniques throughout academic institutions and communities statewide.

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