By Rachel Leber
MERCED, Calif. — The University of California in Merced was awarded LEED Platinum status on March 9 for its new classroom building completed last summer. This recent LEED award is the 17th LEED certification that UC Merced has received over the past 10 years for new construction, and is its eighth platinum designation.
The new building is known as Classroom and Office Building 2 (COB2), and is 71,349 square feet and had a budget of approximately $30 million. The architect was SCB in San Francisco, with internal campus Architect Thomas E. Lollini, FAIA, also on the project. The general contractor was Sundt Construction based in Sacramento, Calif.
COB2 was certified LEED Platinum with 86 points, with overall energy-efficiency performing 46 percent higher than the California Title 24 Energy Code requirements, according to Mark Maxwell, assistant director of sustainability at UC Merced. These points were earned through many sustainability measures, one of which included the installation of a cool roof. Additionally, heavily insulated exterior walls with large areas of glazing for daylighting were installed to help reduce the size of mechanical and lighting systems in the building.
Like many of UC Merced’s other buildings, COB2 pulls chilled and hot water from the Central Plant on campus, which contributes to its high energy efficiency, according to a recent statement. All offices have thermostats and operable windows for the building’s occupants, to allow them personalized comfort along with window sensors. Ninety-three percent of construction debris was diverted, with recycled building materials in the building tracking at 51 percent, according to Maxwell.
The building has occupancy sensors and timers for lights throughout the building, tied into the lighting management system, and LED lighting installed throughout the building. Additionally, one-pint urinals, dual flush toilets and automated sensor-faucets are installed in the building, which has now become a campus minimum standard, according to Maxwell. “Forty-three percent water-efficiency is common in our campus buildings due to the fixtures that are now part of our regular design standards to use on all new constructed buildings,” said Maxwell.
The new COB2 classroom is just one part of many of UC Merced’s overall sustainability strategic plan for its campus. UC Merced received LEED certification status for the entire campus last year, with many buildings being certified at LEED Silver and LEED Gold status, which helps with many of the campus’s other sustainability goals, according to Maxwell. UC Merced has a threefold goal they call the “triple zero” goal, which includes pursuing zero waste, zero net energy and zero net emissions with a goal of achieving all of these by 2020.
Additionally, in their efforts towards sustainability, UC Merced is now in their second year of a “LEED Lab” on campus, according to Maxwell. This is a student lab devoted to certifying the entire campus under LEED standards. Each year, students create a scorecard for one building on campus, look for new credits to be earned, and learn more about what it takes to gain these credits. Many of the students from this LEED lab have become motivated to get LEED AP accreditation, and are pursuing professional status. As a result, UC Merced is responding by creating a new class that will prepare students for the professional exams in this area.
“This project, amongst many others, demonstrates UC Merced’s commitment to sustainability,” said Maxwell. “Our focus on sustainability contributes to our triple zero goals, and our larger carbon and environmental footprint impact. We believe that if we can do this, everyone can. We hope that our example is influential in encouraging the rest of the world to follow suit,” Maxwell said.