UC Irvine Building Goes LEED Platinum

The University of California at Irvine’s (UC Irvine) new Gateway Humanities Building was designed to invoke ‘a sense of unforeseen possibilities,’ but we imagine that the building’s LEED Platinum status was something that the university saw coming. After all, there are only 40 projects certified at this level in the state of California, and this project scored five better than the minimum number of points required for top green certification.

Inspired, in part, by Janus, the two-faced god of mythological literature with the gift of vision into both past and future, the building features “a thoughtful, formal façade” in harmony with the campus’ existing architecture on one side, and on the other, “a more organic, free-flowing design intended to evoke a sense of delight.” (The curving glass wall rises four stories, presenting a ribbon of glass panels in four different widths installed in a random manner.)

The building was designed by LEED veterans Fentress Architects and built by Hensel Phelps Construction.

Humanities Gateway Building

image via U.C. Irvine

Sustainable strategies in use in the building include its integration with UC Irvine’s efficient central plant to produce cold/hot water, while chilling and storing for use during the day; efficient steam turbines; mechanical and plumbing systems that exceed Title 24 requirements; and occupancy sensors that control HVAC and lighting.

The facility is constructed with 40% regionally sourced materials and low E glass (for energy efficiency). It makes use of a full commissioning service (to ensure the building runs on optimal settings) and energy efficient elevators, and has removed hot water in lavatories to save on water heating costs.

Other green features include the extensive use of daylighting via windows and skylights throughout the building and a  mechanical system that incorporates 100 percent outside air economizers and variable flow fans to maximize energy efficiency. (The design team focused on mechanical spaces for custom-built air handlers to maximize serviceability for all primary components.)

All told, the building achieved 57 of the 52 minimum benchmark points required for LEED Platinum certification from U.S. Green Building Council.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.