Award recognizes high level of environmental achievementin
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
“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:
“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.