Campus to See More Green Certified Buildings

As part of the campus commitment to sustainability, UCSD is currently planning and constructing 19 buildings to qualify for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification.

“All-new construction on the UCSD campus will meet, at minimum, LEED Silver certification, which encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices,” UCSD spokesperson Rex Graham wrote in an email.

Because of this, Graham said the campuswide per-square-foot consumption of water has decreased over the past four years from 56 to 53 gallons per square foot.

To acquire LEED certification, projects are evaluated on standards such as water efficiency — for example, water-efficient landscaping must reduce water usage by 50 percent. Other credits include bicycle storage and storm water quality control.

According to Graham, most projects will be completed by the 2012-13 academic year, though some will not be completed until the 2015-16 academic year. The total cost for the 19 projects is estimated at $1.47 billion.

On April 19, McCarthy Building Companies started construction for LEED-platinum-certified Health Sciences Biomedical Research Facility in the School of Medicine.

The facility will be used as a research laboratory and support space for new faculty in departments such as pediatrics, medical genomics and neurosciences. Construction, which costs $179.6 million, is scheduled for completion in April 2013.

Other recent LEED projects include the $42.5-million Muir College and $10.3-million Revelle College apartments — both to be completed Summer 2011 — and they already completed $97.7-million Village II residing north of Eleanor Roosevelt College.

External financing and UC bonds funded $95 million of the cost while university housing reserves will fund the remaining $2 million.

“On-campus housing furthers the university’s sustainability goals,” Graham said. “New construction incorporates the latest energy and water conservation technologies.”

The UC system had a $520 million state-funded facilities program in the 2007-08 academic year. The next year, state bond funding fell to $261 million and many of these funds have been suspended because of the budget crisis.

“More than $400 million of the $781 million in approved bond projects over those two fiscal years have been put on hold because they are dependent upon the state’s ability to obtain financing or sell bonds,” Graham said. “Once the state can access the market again, many previously approved campus facilities will resume construction.”

But Graham said lowered costs of construction make this an optimal time for development. The current cost of construction is possibly 30 percent lower than it was before the economic slowdown.

According to Associated General Contractors of America’s Chief Economist Kenneth Simonson, San Diego lost more than 26,000 construction jobs in the past three years. The county’s current unemployment rate is above 10 percent.

“These projects will bring much-needed work to a suffering industry while creating structures that will deliver value for decades,” Simonson said.

Other campus building projects in progress include the Jacobs Medical Center, Rady School of Management II, East Campus Parking Structure, Renewable Energy Fuel Cell Facility and University House.

Recently completed projects include Conrad Prebys Music Center, Health Sciences Graduate Housing and RIMAC Annex.

LEED buildings are increasingly common on university campuses nationwide.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, there are a total of 199 LEED projects across all UC campuses, 47 of which are LEED-certified.

There are 28 LEED projects at UCSD, five of which are certified buildings.

Across all universities in the United States, there are 4,115 LEED projects and 999 are certified.

The Sustainability Resource Center is the fifth building at UCSD to achieve LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The other four include Scripps Seaside Forum, Campus Services Complex, Mesa Child Development Center and Goody’s Place and Market.

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