|UCSD Sustainability Center Awarded LEED Gold Certification - February 28, 2011|
Rex Graham | February 28, 2011
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
“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 center is the fifth campus building project to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. 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-
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 center 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
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 center. 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.
Another student organization that meets at the center is the UC San Diego chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World. 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,
Many students visit the sustainability center 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.
“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.”