UCSC wins prestigious "gold" recognition for green building

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UCSC is receiving special recognition for its "green" health center.

UC Santa Cruz is getting special recognition for “going green.”

The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded a prestigious “Gold” sustainability and innovation prize to the campus in recognition of the newly retrofitted and expanded Cowell Student Health Center – the first such recognition in the campus’s history.  

The certification comes from LEED [Leadership and Environmental Energy Development], a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated.

This recognition is the end result of a four-year,  $17 million project to expand, seismically retrofit and "green" the 42-year-old health center.

The entire project was funded by students through several bond measures, including Measure 35,  which raised $1.25 million to pay for eco-friendly additions to the building. The students raised this money by agreeing to a new compulsory fee of $5.20 per quarter per student.

Late in the design process, UCSC made major changes.   Among the additions and improvements: waterless urinals and more efficient flush toilets; planter boxes to capture storm water; reinforced turf instead of pavement in a turnaround area for service vehicles; recycled and other green building materials; the use of FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood and the use of “green” finishes on the floors.

Josephine Ortega, UCSC senior architect and Deputy Building Official, said the finished project is an educational tool and an example of a shared vision to to make campus facilities more ecologically sound. 

Ortega said the project planning included some challenges because of early funding issues.

However, the will to sustain the project was strong on campus. "It's been a student vision to green the campus," she said. "There is a strong movement for sustainability."

She gave special credit to Tony Bautista, an environmental studies/economics major who graduated in 2009, and helped steer the green funding Measure 35 to the ballot for passage in 2008.  The entire student body agreed to the measure. Bautista also served as a Chancellor's Undergraduate Intern, working on the Climate Action Plan for our campus.  He is currently living in Los Angeles, where he is working as the sustainability director for a non-profit organization. 

This project is the result of a collaborative effort involving the design architecture firm Hawley Peterson Snyder, DPR Construction, Cowell Student Health Center and UCSC Physical Planning and Construction, Physical Plant, the Student Environmental Center (SEC), the Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP) and the campus Sustainability Office.