UC Merced's First Campus Complex Earns "Gold" Certification

Award recognizes high level of environmental achievementin design,
planning, operation and management of complex

MERCED, CA— The University of California, Merced's first building complex, known as the Central Plant, has been recognized for environmental excellence by the U.S. Green Building Council, the university said today.

The USGBC evaluates buildings on a full range of design and performance factors under its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) program. UC Merced's Central Plant complex was awarded Gold certification in the LEED for New Construction (LEED-NC) category.

On the five-tier USGBC scale, Gold is the second-highest level attainable — one level above the target (Silver) set by the University of California for all new construction, and two levels above the standard set by the State of California (base LEED certification) for new public buildings.

Only one other UC building, at the Santa Barbara campus, has earned certification above the Silver level.

"Earning Gold certification for our first complex is extremely gratifying," said Mark Maxwell, LEED coordinator for the campus. "UC Merced has committed to LEED Silver for our entire campus. No other university in the country, to our knowledge, has set the bar that high. Exceeding the standard on our first attempt reaffirms our commitment to environmental leadership and illustrates the dramatic progress we're beginning to see in the design and construction of 'green' buildings."

The Central Plant complex consists of three buildings — a three-story unit that houses most of the university's power and infrastructure operations, a telecommunications building and a two-million-gallon water-storage tank. The complex earned credits for efficient energy management, water-use reduction, recycling, waste management, lighting, materials selection, landscaping, transportation management and other factors.

For example, UC Merced uses its water tank to store water that is chilled at night, when electricity demand is lowest, then circulated through its buildings to cool them during daytime operation. The process helps the university beat the state's strict Title 24 energy-conservation guidelines by some 12-14 percent for each building. Overall, in its first year of operation, the complex is using 35 percent less energy than a building constructed to current standards would use.

The USGBC also cited the university's substantial use of recycled content in construction materials, the use of low-emitting paints, sealants and carpets for improved indoor air quality, the use of wood products certified as to their origin, and other factors in its evaluation.

In addition to awarding LEED-NC Gold certification to the Central Plant complex, the USGBC also approved 10 prototype credits for the campus as a whole. These credits will apply to all new construction, giving each new building a 10-point head start toward LEED certification.

"I believe UC Merced is the first project to receive approved prototype credits," said Maxwell.

LEED ratings are based on a point system that assigns credits for each beneficial element. Ratings are:

Points Rating
0-25 Not Rated
26-32 Base Certified
33-38 Silver Certified
39-51 Gold Certified
52-69 Platinum Certified

"This achievement is testament to the university's efforts to advance sustainable building practices in the Central Valley," said Thomas Lollini, associate vice chancellor for physical planning, design and construction.

More Information

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