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UC Davis achieves third platinum award for green building

October 27, 2011

The University of California, Davis, has earned a third “platinum” certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for creating buildings that lead the way to a sustainable future, more than any other University of California campus.

The newest platinum project is an 83,000-square-foot complex that houses the UC Davis Conference Center and Maurice J. Gallagher Jr. Hall, home of the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. The complex was designed and built to use 30 percent less energy than a typical office building.

Worldwide, only 610 buildings have earned the rigorous platinum certification since 2000, when the building council established its LEED rating system. Platinum is the highest ranking, awarded only to the greenest buildings.

“Sustainability is one of our core values,” said UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “We embrace sustainability as an economic driver — and we have made it integral to our organizational culture. This is another UC Davis project that serves as a model for development that better stewards our resources.”

The new platinum complex joins the UC Davis Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, which made history last year as the first brewery, winery and food-processing complex in the world to go platinum. In 2007, the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center in Incline Village, Nev., won platinum status.

Philanthropy played a key role in these achievements. Gallagher Hall was supported by a $10 million gift from Gallagher, a Las Vegas airline executive and alumnus, and his wife Marcia. The $20 million winery, brewery and food-processing facility at the Mondavi Institute was entirely paid for by private contributions.

“We’re thrilled with the platinum rating for Gallagher Hall, which reflects the Graduate School of Management’s and UC Davis’ culture of environmental responsibility and our collective commitment to furthering the global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices,” said Steven C. Currall, dean of the management school. “UC Davis is a pioneer in clean technology research and energy-efficiency solutions, and this is yet another example of how our campus both creates and adopts clean energy innovations.”

With the new designation, Gallagher Hall becomes the first platinum MBA school in California and only the third nationwide.

The Conference Center, located across from the UC Davis Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts and adjacent to the campus’ Hyatt Place hotel, hosts nearly 500 conferences annually, including last year’s Governors’ Global Climate Summit 3, an event that drew leaders from around the world to develop subnational collaboration on policies and strategies to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and stimulate green jobs.

The San Francisco office of Sasaki Associates Inc. designed the $34 million Graduate School of Management and Conference Center project. Sundt Construction's Sacramento office served as general contractor.

“The many individuals who worked on this project and supported this newest platinum rating can honestly say they are helping to change the world,” said John Meyer, vice chancellor for administrative and resource management.

The platinum award adds to UC Davis’ reputation as a pioneer in sustainable building and practices.

Other achievements include:

  • Sierra Magazine this year ranked UC Davis among the nation’s top 10 “greenest” colleges.
  • UC Davis West Village, a 130-acre development that opened its doors this fall, is the nation’s largest planned zero net energy community. Zero net energy, in which a building or project generates as much energy as it consumes during a year, has never been attempted on a scale this large. At build-out, the visionary project will house 3,000 students, faculty and staff.
  • On an average weekday, more than 75 percent of students, faculty, staff and visitors use sustainable transportation (walking, bicycling, carpooling, riding a bus or taking a train) as their primary means of commuting to and getting around on campus. The student-run Unitrans bus system, served by a fleet of 49 buses fueled by compressed natural gas, carries 20,000 riders a day. And the campus has more than 42 miles of bike paths and more than 20,000 bike racks, earning it a gold award from the League of American Bicyclists.
  • Aggressive recycling, composting and reuse efforts prevent more than 60 percent of campus waste from entering landfills annually. Aggie Stadium, the nation’s first zero-waste stadium, in 2010 won first place in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s nationwide WasteWise Game Day Challenge.
  • The campus spends more than 20 percent of its food budget in dining halls on local products, buys organic items such as poultry and grains, and sources olive oil and tomatoes from campus farms.
  • Through its Smart Lighting Initiative, the campus is striving to reduce its energy demand for lighting by 60 percent by 2015.
  • And through its Climate Action Plan, the campus has reduced greenhouse gas emissions below year 2000 levels and is working to reach year 1990 levels by 2020.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized green building certification system that provides a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance approaches. The Green Building Council is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit committed to achieving a sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.

According to the council, buildings are responsible for 39 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, 40 percent of energy consumption and 13 percent of water consumption nationwide. Greater building efficiency can meet 85 percent of future U.S. demand for energy, and a national commitment to green building could generate 2.5 million American jobs, according to council estimates.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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