UCSB aims to meet tougher green standards for projects

November 27, 2003

By MORGAN GREEN

NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER

 

UCSB is poised to commit hundreds of millions of dollars in future campus construction to tough new energy- and resource-saving standards that would set the bar for the rest of the UC system.

 

The influential Campus Planning Committee has sent UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang a resolution to raise minimal environmental conservation requirements for all capital projects, starting next summer.

 

"We're saying we want to do more. We want to take it up a notch," said George Pernsteiner, vice chancellor of administrative services and a member of the committee.

New standards would apply to roughly $300 million in proposed buildings and other projects for the growing campus, and for all construction thereafter, Mr. Pernsteiner said Wednesday.

 

Another $200 million or so in projects already on the drawing boards, including the 278-unit San Clemente graduate student housing project, would not be subject to the higher standard because they're already too far along in the design process.

 

UCSB would become the "greenest" UC campus by requiring projects meet the "silver" certification standard level of the U.S. Green Building Council, Mr. Pernsteiner said.

Meeting the standards means UCSB must achieve minimal scores from points awarded in a range of construction options. For example, said Mr. Pernsteiner, points are earned for using recycled products or using natural ventilation instead of air conditioning.

At present, the campus uses the Green Building Council's lower basic standard on building design, materials and construction practices.

 

"We're optimistic" Mr. Yang will accept the committee's recommendation, Mr. Pernsteiner said.

 

The chancellor "has been very supportive of these efforts before. The campus Sustainability and Green Building Committee was at his instigation," he added.

The chancellor could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The Campus Planning Committee is made up of senior administration officials, along with faculty, graduate student and student representatives.

 

Edward France, chair of the Associated Students committee on environmental affairs, called the university's direction "just epic."

Mr. France, a leader in a statewide student lobbying movement for more environmentally friendly campuses, said the committee's recommendation changes the climate at the university.

 

"It means a real commitment," he said. "Suddenly we're talking about every building project being as green as possible, and nobody can say anything against that because it will be policy."

 

The result "is saving gas and electricity, having more natural lighting, healthier air, and carpets and paint that are environmentally benign," said Mr. France, an environmental studies major. "People fall in love with green buildings."

 

Some "green" practices already at UCSB include using reclaimed wastewater for irrigation, waterless urinals in the newest buildings and interconnecting, efficient cold water systems among buildings that must have cool air.