News "Campus Projects Lauded for Energy, Water Conservation"

Energy Biosciences Building
Bruce Damonte
The facades of the UC Berkeley Energy Biosciences Building are designed for solar control and daylighting. 

Ten campus projects that demonstrate smart approaches to energy and water conservation have been recognized with 2012 Best Practices Awards from the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference.

The winning projects exemplify innovative approaches to resource conservation being implemented on University of California and California State University campuses, which are investing in solutions that will generate long-term cost savings. Projects include new laboratory and dining facilities, energy-efficient lighting and HVAC upgrades, monitoring-based commissioning projects, and campus-wide water conservation efforts.

Case studies documenting the award-winning projects are posted on the UC Berkeley Green Building Research Center's website at

The two projects recognized for best overall sustainable design are UC Berkeley's recently completed Energy Biosciences Building and the dining center at the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo, Calif., which currently is under construction.

The biosciences building is expected to reduce energy use by 39 percent and water use by 58 percent compared to already stringent state standards. The project demonstrates sustainable urban design through its integration into the city of Berkeley's downtown plan, with generous public spaces and native California plants in the landscaping. The building form has been optimized to utilize daylight to illuminate rooms. Advanced lighting controls, translucent glass shading devices and automated shades that block glare increase efficiency and also reduce light pollution at night. Laboratory fume hoods in the building (which can use as much energy as several homes) will save energy through the use of automatic "sashes" that close automatically when not in use.

"The recognition means a lot on campus, and it's valuable to have these case studies posted," said Judy Chess, assistant director for green building programs at UC Berkeley. "We frequently refer people to these case studies."

Two projects recognized in the HVAC category, at UC San Diego and San Diego State, both utilize cutting-edge cost-effective technology that reduces the amount of energy used by the supply air fans, and can be an effective retrofit approach in existing campus buildings. The control system, provided by California-based Vigilent, uses a network of wireless sensors to gather temperature and airflow data, and through the use of advanced algorithms reduces the fan to the minimum needed for cooling and/or ventilation. Both projects took advantage of generous utility rebates, so that savings were immediate and significant.

The HVAC system's energy savings were verified by third parties as required by utility or federal requirements (as federal stimulus funds were used). This verification shows that the technology is "commercially viable, it works in a variety of buildings, and the results are proven," said Corinne Vita, Vigilent's director of market development.

The awards also recognized two lighting retrofits, including an extensive $1.14 million lighting project at UC Santa Cruz that included upgrades to exterior fixtures and controls and fixtures in several campus buildings. This is UC Santa Cruz's second award for lighting retrofits.

Andy Shatney, UC Santa Cruz's lighting design and retrofit specialist, says that the campus's first award contributed to the decision to dedicate a staff member to managing the lighting projects, allowing it to leverage incentive programs, gain experience by doing several more lighting projects and hire student staff.

"The award cemented my position as a lighting manager here," he said.

The awards also recognized two projects to improve water conservation and site water quality, and two projects that implemented monitoring-based commissioning to identify and correct lighting and HVAC problems, improving conditions for occupants while saving energy and operational costs.

The winning projects are innovative for their technology and also because they are replicable, said Warren Jacobs, the University Architect with CSU's Office of the Chancellor, adding that having a venue such as the Higher Education Sustainability Conference to share these ideas is invaluable.

"The peer-to-peer learning is an important part of this program," he said.

The Best Practices Awards are sponsored by the UC/CSU/IOU Energy Efficiency Partnership, a collaboration between the University of California, California State University and the state's four large investor-owned utilities (PG&E, SDG&E, SCE and SoCalGas).

For more information contact:

Matt St.Clair
UC Office of the President
(510) 287-3897

David Lehrer
Green Building Research Center
(510) 642-4950


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