In a first for the university, the Student Recreation and Wellness Center (SRWC) at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) has been awarded a LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
It is the first-ever LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, designation given to a building at the university.
“This is really is a groundbreaking award for Cal State Long Beach,” said Paul Wingco, CSULB’s energy and sustainable manager. “It is the first certified green building for the university and that’s significant because it shows the campus’ commitment to sustainability and sustainable design and green building practices.”
LEED is an internationally-recognized green building certification system. Developed in 2000, the system provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.
“Buildings have a big carbon footprint and they can be a big part of the solution to climate change. That’s why the existence of this kind of certification is important,” Wingco pointed out. “So, if we can design and operate our building more sustainably, we become part of the solution.”
LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
Opened in fall 2010, the SRWC is a $61 million, 126,000-square-foot facility that features weight and fitness machines, cardio theater, a wellness center, rock-climbing wall, indoor running track, basketball/volleyball/badminton courts, multi-activity courts, outside recreation pool and spa, sand volleyball and racquetball courts, health food shop, personal trainers and group fitness classes.
Several of the SRWC’s elements are environmentally friendly, and it started with the groundbreaking itself as pulverized asphalt from Parking Lot 11, on which the center was built, was reused beneath the building’s foundation. In addition, the center uses reclaimed water for irrigation, waterless urinals, adjustable lights that brighten as the day grows darker, recycled lumber, and new technology such as biometric scanners to decrease paper waste and save on utility costs.
“The Gold certification is the second highest designation given by the Green Building Council and there was a lot of effort from both the design and construction teams to achieve that,” Wingco explained. “Certainly, energy efficiency of the building was one of the reasons we received the designation. The building was designed to meet California energy standards by at least 20 percent. The water conservation aspects of the building and the landscaping around it was another factor.
“The building uses low-flow plumbing fixtures and uses 100 percent reclaimed water for its landscaping needs, and the lighting was specially designed to be the most energy efficient as is the heating and air conditioning in the building,” he continued. “All of these pieces really work together to attain outstanding energy efficiency for the building.”
Participation in the LEED process, which begins during the design process and continues through the completion of construction on the building, gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. There are both environmental and financial benefits to earning LEED certification. LEED-certified buildings are designed to:
- Lower operating costs and increase asset value;
- Reduce waste sent to landfills;
- Conserve energy and water;
- Be healthier and safer for occupants;
- Reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions;
- Qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives in hundreds of cities.
Wingco said, “The other significance of this certification for the university is that this building and its awarded designation sets the standard for any and all future building construction on campus.”
Wingco also noted that green building design can be applied to not only new building construction but to building renovations as well. In fact, the university is in the process of seeking certification for an existing building on campus, the Horn Center, and hopes to get certification sometime next year.