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UC San Diego Sustainability
Center Awarded LEED Gold Certification

February 28, 2010

By Rex Graham

Chancellor Marye Anne Fox
UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, right, and sustainability analyst Kristin Hansen greet visitors to the campus Sustainability Resource Center.

A hotbed of student activism and involvement focused on energy- and resource-efficient innovations is now green and gold. The Sustainability Resource Center has been awarded a LEED “Gold” certification for incorporating many of the students’ sustainability ideas into the center, such as reclaimed wood and metal building materials and what looks like a hardwood table that is actually recycled cardboard.

“The Sustainability Resource Center plays a critical role on campus, fostering collaborations and serving as a one-stop-shop for all things related to sustainability, as well as being an example itself of green-building practices,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox at a celebration Feb. 22 at the center, which is located at the hub of campus life off the main plaza of the Price Center.

The surprisingly stylish Sustainability Resource Center (SRC) showcases large works of modern art (made from reclaimed materials and building scrap) and

ceiling lights directly powered by solar panels. The SRC is the fifth campus building project to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The others are the Scripps Seaside Forum, Campus Services Complex, Mesa Child Development Center and Goody’s Place and Market. The campus has an additional 24 projects in various stages of design, construction and use that have sufficient green points for LEED applications.

“With the completion of the SRC, our campus now has almost 80,000 square feet of LEED-certified space,” said Gary C. Matthews, vice chancellor for Resource Management and Planning, who with Fox has been a guiding force behind UC San Diego’s rise as one of the greenest campuses in the nation. Matthews noted that the University of California’s 10 campuses have the highest number of LEED-certified buildings of any university in the nation. The UC San Diego campus alone has one fewer LEED-certified building than the 15-institution University of Texas system.

Gold Artwork
The UC San Diego Sustainability Resource Center includes large works of modern art made from reclaimed materials and building scrap.

LEED certification ensures that a building was designed and built to maximize energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. U.S. colleges and universities have 83,000 buildings, or 1.7 percent of all commercial buildings, but higher education accounts for nearly 13 percent of the country’s 7,778 LEED-certified buildings as of Jan. 21, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

The SRC is home for the Student Sustainability Collective, a student organization whose wide-ranging initiatives and programs are helping the campus achieve two major environmental goals: zero landfill waste by 2020 and climate neutrality by 2025. For example, last week the collective launched a new campaign to eliminate sales on campus of disposable plastic water bottles.

“We hosted an event that offered local, organic cuisine catered by the campus' food co-op,” said Raman Deol, the collective’s director of water policy who is a senior majoring in Urban Studies and Planning and minoring in Environmental Systems. “We showed videos on the effect of the bottled water industry, and there was a performance by Skavolutionary Orchestra.” The local bebop band with a political edge provided a fitting musical accompaniment to the “Breaking the Plastic Habit” event.

The event also was used to promote the recently launched “Own Your Impact” campaign, which is led by Mandy Gallegos, a Communications major and a marketing intern at the SRC. One of 13 unpaid interns at the SRC, Gallegos is challenging students, faculty and staff to commit to sustainability in their daily lives as part of her project. It uses a Web-based questionnaire to gauge participants’ environmental impact by asking them whether they turn off their computer every night, wash clothes in cold water and take stairs instead of elevators.

About 1,300 students, faculty and staff have taken the Own-Your-Impact challenge, including Fox, University of California sustainability manager Matt StClair, Revelle College Provost Don Wayne and several deans, department chairs and professors. Another participant is Sixth College Provost Naomi Oreskes, one of the nation’s leading historians of science who was the first to document a broad consensus among scientists that global warming is a reality despite widespread misinformation to the contrary.

Joseph Ocampo, a UC San Diego sophomore, is leading a team that is trying to add solar-powered charging stations for electric utility vehicles, laptops, cell phones and other devices.

Another student organization that meets at the center is the UC San Diego chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW). Its current projects include teaching students at the UCSD Preuss School how to compost, extracting plant oil from coffee grounds as a source of bio-diesel, and improving clean water supplies, sanitation, irrigation, and hydro-electric power in rural villages in Thailand.

Joseph Ocampo, a 2009 graduate of the Preuss School and a sophomore at UC San Diego, is an active member of Engineers for a Sustainable World. He is leading a team that has written a grant proposal to the Maryland-based SunEdison to help UC San Diego add solar-powered charging stations for electric utility vehicles, laptops, cell phones and other devices.

"Under the guidelines of the ESW/SunEdison Green Island Grant, we will be designing, constructing and testing an off-grid, solar powered charging station for UCSD's utility vehicle fleet,” said Ocampo. “A well placed off-grid charging station can fulfill a variety of functions, such as reducing the need for trenching into areas of high utility vehicle traffic for charging. But most importantly, the solar-powered charging station will provide a location of interest for students, faculty, visitors and the media, all for the mission of sustainability and innovation."

Many students visit the SRC to find out about internship opportunities offered by campus departments and area companies. Mahin Khan, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, attends weekly meetings at the center. In a campus program unrelated to the SRC, Khan was hired as an intern for the campus’ Facilities Management Department. For 12 to 15 hours a week, he helps the department’s professional staff complete sustainability and LEED projects that require calculations, analysis, computer-aided-design, and Google Earth drawings.

Gold Students
The Sustainability Resource Center plays a critical role on campus, fostering collaborations and serving as a one-stop-shop for all things related to sustainability.

“A variety of student organizations are now using the Sustainability Resource Center for the first time to get involved in April’s Earth Week events on campus,” said sustainability analyst Kristin Hansen. She provides administrative support to students and student organizations that use the center as a base of operations.

“Going green for our students is a lot more than composting,” Hansen said. “Many of them are majoring in sustainability-related academic fields and they come here because they see the university as a living laboratory where they can invent creative ways to take action to address global warming and climate change long before they graduate.”

Media Contact: Rex Graham, 858-534-5952, ragraham@ucsd.edu

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