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LEED Buildings – Everything, Big or Small, Makes a Difference


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LEED Buildings – Everything, Big or Small, Makes a Difference

By Sustainability Interns | February 12, 2015

There are many things we fail to notice as we go through our busy college lives. We find ourselves busy with homework, paying too much attention to our crush, and participating extra hours within our clubs that often times we don’t take time to realize what our campus has to offer. As a LEED Intern with the Office of Sustainability, I have noticed how sustainable our campus really is, with sustainable features I have taken for granted – such as LEED Buildings.

For example, UCR is more sustainable for the alternative transportation it provides to students and visitors. Freshman year, I was car-less and in need to go to places that weren’t on campus, I did not always have a ride, so I rode the bus many times to get around. I have many friends who live near campus that take the bus to get to school. This is usually because they do not want to pay for gas only to pay for a parking pass once they get to Lot 1, or worse – Lot 30. The bus route allows the students to save money while reducing our carbon footprint by allowing people to use a dependable alternative transportation and relying less on personal vehicles.

LEED for New Construction, rewards projects for having 1 or more bus stops for 2 or more different bus lines within ¼ mile walking distance from the main entrance. SS credit 4.1 Public Transportation Access earns a LEED project 6 points!

LEED encourages UCR to become more sustainable by encouraging students to ride their bikes to school. There are many secure bike racks and bicycle storage locations throughout campus. This is honestly great, biking everywhere on campus is so much faster and convenient than walking in Riverside heat.

LEED NC rewards projects for providing secure bicycle racks/storage and shower facilities within 200 yards from the main entrance. SS credit 4.2 Bicycle Storage and Changing Rooms earns a LEED Project 1 point.

Not only are we able to ride green, but we are also able to look green – efficiently. Everyone agrees that plants are a great way to add visual beauty to a campus. Unfortunately, lawns and trees need a lot of water and maintenance to stay beautiful. When we live in a state that is in a drought, it’s hard to determine how much water should go to watering our scenery. Fortunately, there are a variety of plants native and adaptive to our part of Southern California that do not need as much water or maintenance and are still able to bring elegance to our campus. Such planting helps our landscape be more water efficient while earning our LEED Projects points.

LEED NC rewards projects for restoring a minimum of 50% of the project site with native and adaptive vegetation, as well as reducing 50% of potable water consumption for efficient landscaping. SS credit Protect or Store Habitat earns a LEED Project 1 point and 2 points for WE credit Water Efficient Landscaping.

UCR is also recycling more material. This is because there are recycling bins EVERYWHERE. I’m pretty sure I have seen more recycling bins than trash bins on campus. Apart from looking nicer than the trash cans, they ensure that students have access to recycling everywhere they walk.

LEED NC requires a minimum amount of area dedicated to recycling for MR Prerequisite 1 Storage and Collection of Recyclables. (Even though Compost doesn’t earn LEED points – I would also like to add that it’s great to see more compost bins next to the recycling bins, especially since UCR has become one of the first universities to feature compostable soft drink cups in their retail outlets).

What I have found most impressive, however, is how UCR has been able to harness and use Green energy. Apart from the hipster-looking solar powered tables where students are able to charge their devices off the electric grid, UCR is also able to use renewable energy for their LEED buildings from its very own solar farm. If you climb the C, you’ll be able to see UCR’s Solar Farm.

LEED NC reward Projects 1-7 points, based on percentage of renewable energy generated, under EA credit 2 On-Site Renewable Energy.

All of these sustainable features are important for earning a building a LEED certification. It is UCR Policy for all new buildings to earn at least a LEED Silver certification (at least 50 points), so every point is crucial.

LEED certified buildings tackle the problem from all sides. They save money and resources and have a positive impact on the health of occupants, while promoting renewable, clean energy. As more of our campus’s buildings become LEED certified, the more visible it becomes that our university has a high sense of responsibility for taking care of the local environment and the health of its students. It shows how innovative and creative it is by saving the university money while making such great buildings.

I am a student in a campus that is showing progress and adventure. It’s exciting to know that I attend an institute that keeps updating and bettering itself to fit the needs of the time. Going green isn’t a fad anymore – it’s a growing industry that is challenging, innovative, and positive. Right now, UCR is a pioneer in the university system by going green, and that is thrilling. Every sustainable step, big or small, makes a difference.

-Xavier Hernandez

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General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Office of Sustainability
University Village
1223 University Avenue, Suite 200

Tel: (951) 827-1270
Fax: (951) 827-3890
E-mail: sustain@ucr.edu

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