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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

U.S. Green Building Council presents UC system with green building award

On Oct. 29, the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Northern California Chapter held its annual Green Building Super Heroes Awards Gala recognizing the entire University of California system amongst others for their commitment to sustainable innovation in California.

UC Davis was singled out among the campuses for its new West Village complex, as well as the winery and brewery portions of the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.

“Northern California leads the country in green building, and these award winners exemplify the region’s spirit of innovation,” said Dan Geiger, executive director of the USGBC’s Northern California Chapter in a press release.

The USGBC additionally recognized UC Berkeley for its sustainable campus design as well as Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for the renovation of one of its laboratory buildings.

John Meyer, Vice Chancellor of Administrative and Resource Management for UC Davis accepted the award.

“I think it just recognizes the leadership role the Davis campus takes on sustainability matters,” Meyer said. “It’s very helpful in telling that audience the significant role UC Davis plays in stewarding resources.”

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system was created in 1998 by the USGBC. Aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing waste, the system evaluates buildings and communities based on criteria such as water efficiency, indoor air quality and energy consumption.

The UC system’s adherence to green building standards, also known as LEED, has allowed it to stand as a vanguard of sustainable building practices in California.

The rating system appraises a building using these metrics and awards it a rank ranging from LEED Certified to Silver, Gold and Platinum.

The Teaching and Research Winery and August A. Busch III Brewing and Food Science Laboratory is a 34,000 square foot complex housed inside of the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Institute. The building contains processing facilities for milk and other foods, as well as a winery and brewery.

Not only is the facility home to the world’s first LEED Platinum certified winery, according to a UC press release it additionally boasts the highest LEED score of a building at any university.

This facility is only one of the 140 LEED certified buildings spread across UC, which hosts more LEED buildings than any other university in the country.

Located west of Highway 113 and encompassing the Ramble and Viridian apartment complexes, the West Village project has been heralded as the largest planned net-zero energy community in the country.

Designed as a partnership between UC Davis and a private contractor, the project aims to reduce its net energy consumption to zero while supporting apartments, a community college campus and UC Davis’ planned “uHub” research center.

According to a press release from West Village, the complex will achieve this through a combination of “aggressive energy efficiency measures” such as high efficiency light fixtures and air conditioning as well as the extensive use of solar power.

This focus on sustainability is made possible mainly by the UC Sustainable Practices Policy established by the UC Office of the President in 2004. This policy stipulates that all new UC construction and renovation must at least be certified LEED Silver.

Additionally the policy sets out other campus wide sustainability goals, such as reducing water consumption by 20 percent, achieving zero waste and lowering greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels, or 50 percent of the current output.

According to Mary Hayakawa, executive director of Real Estate Services for UC Davis, Davis is constantly trying to surpass expectations.

“We look for how we can push the envelope on every project,” Hayakawa said. “The standard is [LEED] Silver, we strive for Gold.”

This commitment to sustainable infrastructure can be seen in the numerous LEED buildings throughout campus, such as the Gold-Certified Student Health and Wellness Center and newly-built Student Community Center, which received a Platinum rating.

According to a UC press release, the combined effect of these energy efficient measures have helped save the UC system over $128 million in energy expenditures since 2004.

Julianne Nola is assistant director of Design and Construction Management at UC Davis. She said the progress made by UC Davis and the entire UC system is due in part to California’s conducive environment for green energy.

“California is already known for being a leader in sustainability,” Nola said. “We already had the roots, now we’re just feeding off of that. So we’re able to do more and more.”

For Nola, however, designing efficient and sustainable architecture is not all about the awards or recognition. Making a facility that achieves a balance between usefulness and sustainability is the ultimate goal.

“For the university, the question when constructing efficient buildings is not “what will get us an award?” but rather “what do we feel is going to make a good building?’” Nola said.

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