On April 19, Donald Bren Hall on the University of California - Santa Barbara, (UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA) was not only dedicated, but it received the United States Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum award, the highest of these honors, for the school's innovation and dedication to being "green."

UCSB's goal was to design a building that minimizes the environmental impact of the ecosystem and efficiently makes use of the land, air, water, and energy surrounding the campus. By partnering with various U.S. companies, Donald Bren Hall surpasses California's strict building and energy code requirements by 32% to 40%, while only having added a 2% cost to the project to achieve this. There is only one other building in the entire country to have received such an award.

A cool ocean breeze

The Donald Bren Hall is home to the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, a University of California system-wide graduate program linking students and faculty in the areas of science, management, law, and policy. The four-story building is 84,672 sq ft with 21,058 sq ft of laboratory space, and 25,246 sq ft of classrooms, offices, and conference rooms.

The building overlooks the Pacific Ocean, incorporating all the latest elements of sustainable design, including solar photovoltaic panels that capture the sunlight to provide almost 10% of the building's electricity; natural air cooling using ocean breezes; large windows to take advantage of the natural light; and energy-efficient lamps and ballasts, including motion and ambient light sensors to control lighting levels.

The project was 10 years in the making, as design on the hall began in 1992 with input from an adjunct group of UCSB faculty members. It wasn't until 1998 that the "greening" of the building began in earnest after a state bond was passed the previous year to fund construction. This same year, the Bren School was introduced to the USGBC and became part of the LEED 1.0 Pilot Program.

"The Bren School will be a 'living laboratory' for sustainable green building practices and materials," said Dennis Aigner, dean. "This building will use 27% to 40% less electricity than a conventional structure," he added.

The partners

Recyclable materials are used throughout the building, including reclaimed carpets, rubber flooring from recycled tires, ceiling tiles made from cornstarch and recycled paper, and roofing materials that insulate the roof and reduce energy consumption. The windows even have a device that automatically shuts off the room's heating system when opened.

Aigner, who oversaw the construction of the school, praised the industries that contributed to the building's technology. "Greening an 85,000-sq-ft living laboratory to a high level of national distinction is a direct result of key sponsors," he said.

Parker Boiler Co. (Los Angeles) supplied the school with its 23rd Parker manufactured unit, a Model T2970LR, to heat the new hall. The unit was chosen because it provides 85% efficiency and as well as NOx levels of 20 ppm at 3% O2 and CO levels below 100 ppm.

According to Rick Goedert, sales engineer for Johnson Boiler Control (Fresno, CA), Parker's sales representative in the area, Parker Boilers were a good choice for the school because of their reliability. "They are bulletproof," he said. "They are very reliable, very repairable, and have a long history of no accidents."

Johnson Controls (Milwaukee), another strategic partner on this project, provided Donald Bren Hall with an automated building control system that reduces standard electricity usage. The system uses outside ambient light and photo sensors in every room, while cutting down on light fixture costs.

Other partners on this project include Sarnafil, U.S., (Catonsville, MA), which provided a white cap Energy Star roofing system that reflects heat and keeps the building cool, thus reducing the energy used to cool the building; ITT/Bell & Gossett (Morton Grove, IL), which provided circulating pumps; Honeywell (Golden Valley, MN) which supplied a flame safeguard system that is integrated into the bas; Valley Crest Tree Company (Calabasas, CA), which donated 19 California sycamores to shade and shelter the building, reducing cooling requirements; and Waterless Company (Del Mar, CA), which provided 10 waterless urinals to the building, estimated to save approximately 45,000 gal of water/year.

It is easy bein' green

At the hall's grand opening ceremony, keynote speaker Kermit the Frog summed up the project's scope, "Each of us can make a difference. This new building is part of all that. It's an environmental landmark that will teach others that there are better ways to use resources and share the planet. It's a place that, well, between you and me, it's a place that makes it a lot easier being green. I really like it here. In fact, I'm thinking of moving in. I could work the information desk."ES