PG&E rewards UCSC for “green” energy savings at BioMedical building

Photo by Steve Kurtz.
Left to right: John Barnes, Campus Architect; Phil Furniss, PG&E Major Account Manager; Sarah Latham, Vice Chancellor Business and Administrative Services (BAS); Robert Morse, PG&E Manager; Patrick Testoni, Campus Energy Manager. Photo by Neel Patel.

Pacific Gas & Electric teamed up with UC Santa Cruz to help design energy-efficient labs in the new BioMedical Building.

But the company did more than just advise UCSC on energy-saving practices.  It also offered a large cash incentive to help cover the project costs.

In April, PG&E wrote a check for $320,000 to UCSC as part of its incentive program for participating campuses. 

PG&E cash incentives help fund pre-approved projects including retrofits of existing buildings or the installation of energy-efficient equipment during construction.

The BioMedical Building has been hailed as one of the most efficient “green” buildings on campus. Completed in 2012, the building was designed and built with a target of achieving LEED Silver certification, but it exceeded this goal and is now the third certified LEED Gold building on the UCSC campus. 

The other two LEED certified Gold buildings are the Porter College House A and the Cowell Student Health Center.

PG&E incentive amounts reflect the amount of energy that a project is expected to save in the future. According to PG&E’s web page about the rebate program, the more energy participating organizations save on their projects, the more incentive money they receive from PG&E.

The incentive check was part of PG&E’s Savings By Design Program. University of California campuses are participating in the Higher Education Energy Efficiency Partnership Program, of which Savings by Design is one component. This partnership aims for long-term reductions in energy consumption in participating universities across the state. 

The partnership provides campuses with engineering support as well as financial incentives. This is the largest energy-efficiency incentive check that UCSC has received for a newly constructed building.

“This project represents the first of many future successful partnerships between UC Santa Cruz and PG&E’s Savings By Design Program,” said Energy Manager Patrick Testoni. 

The fact that PG&E was brought in very early to the project (during the design phase of construction) was key to the BioMedical building being constructed as a highly energy efficient lab building, Testoni said.