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Campus Earns Two More LEED Certifications

March 9, 2015

UC Merced’s sustainable practices have earned the campus its 15th Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for new construction and its first LEED certification for building operations and maintenance.

The Half Dome student housing building, which opened two years ago, became the fifth UC Merced building to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED platinum certification — the highest rating for new buildings.

UC Merced continues to be the only campus in the nation with LEED certification for all its facilities. The Classroom and Office Building 2, under construction, is also expected to achieve platinum status.

After a lengthy audit and survey process, the Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library earned a gold certificate in Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (EBOM).

“The EBOM certificate is a testimony to UC Merced’s sustainable operations and maintenance practices,” Director of Energy and Sustainability Zuhair Mased said. “It is a result of close collaboration between all departments, because we all have to meet high standards to earn this.”

While documenting construction practices has gotten easier now that the campus has done it so many times, the EBOM process takes more time — about a year. Mased and campus Energy Manager Varick Erickson conducted a top-to-bottom audit of the 178,000-square-foot library building, including staff surveys.

The process examines a building’s physical systems — such as equipment, design and land use — and the way the building is occupied and operated by its managers, including waste management, temperature monitoring, commuting programs, recycling programs and more.

The goal of EBOM certification is to make sure a building operates in an environmentally friendly manner and to help campus leaders create a plan for ensuring high-performance buildings over time.

The process will be repeated across campus, with the first Classroom and Office Building next on the list.

“It tells us we’re not only building in a sustainable manner, but operating the campus the same way,” Mased said. “Everybody here is a stakeholder in that.”

Half Dome’s platinum certificate is the first the campus has earned for a housing building. The dining expansion, the Social Science and Management Building, the Student Activities and Athletic Center and the Student Services Building all earned platinum status, too. The campus also has eight gold certificates and a silver certificate, and the Early Childhood Education Center is one of the first LEED gold modular buildings in the country.

Some of Half Dome’s green features:

  • Ninety-six percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills;
  • Forty-eight percent of the building materials are recycled content;
  • Ninety-eight percent of the wood in the building came from Forest Stewardship Council-certified forests, which are operated sustainably;
  • Landscape water use is 60 percent more efficient than California code requires;
  • The building is 40 percent more water efficient than California code requires; and
  • This is one of the first campus buildings equipped with an armature for a rooftop solar-energy system, for which the solar panels will be installed later this year.

Platinum certification is also pending on the Summits Housing 3 project, and the Science & Engineering 2 Building, which opened last fall.

“The campus is close to having all of its occupied buildings certified,” LEED Coordinator Mark Maxwell said. “This is just more proof that our green practices are succeeding.”