LEED Platinum First For UC Student Housing

We write often about new buildings and dorms going up on college campuses across the country that are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified, particularly in California. But for the first time, the state’s vaunted University of California system can boast of having a LEED Platinum-certified student housing building. (The Cal State system got its first LEED Platinum housing earlier this year, on the Fullerton campus.)

The new Platinum-winning building is the Charles David Keeling Apartments on the UC San Diego campus. The school gets double congratulations on this structure as it is also the first new building on the campus to receive the Platinum rating. To reach such a designation — the highest handed out by the U.S. Green Building Council — the building was designed with a number of sustainable elements in mind, including: water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

image via Kiren Timberlake/©Tim Griffith

The apartments, named after the American scientist whose research first alerted the world to the possibility of the human impact on global atmospheric carbon, will provide housing for 516 students. Taking advantage of its location near the Pacific Ocean,  its cooling capabilities will come from ocean breezes instead of mechanical cooling. The building’s shape and arrangement work to capture prevailing winds to provide occupant comfort without the use of  air conditioning.

image via Kiren Timberlake/©Tim Griffith

Industrial fiberglass grating was used to create sunshades and railings on the exterior of the building that also keeps the building cool because it doesn’t contribute to solar heat gain. The materials also have the added benefit of lower maintenance and longer replacement intervals. Water conservation is also an important feature of the building. An on-site wastewater recycling project provides landscape irrigation water.

“It is a pilot project for UC San Diego in many ways, and we hope it serves as a model for environmentally responsible student housing not only for the UC system, but for colleges and universities around the country,” said James Timberlake, FAIA, lead design partner at KieranTimberlake, the architecture firm responsible for the project.

Kristy Hessman is a writer and native Oregonian who currently resides in California. Before starting her own company, she worked as a reporter covering business and politics for daily newspapers and The Associated Press.

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