Students help local business aim for highest LEED certification
by Mariko Lamb
Sep 12, 2012 | 1388 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Students at UCSD and SDSU worked together on a project to help the Mission Bay Aquatic Center earn platinum LEED certification.                                                    Photo courtesy of UCSD
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College students from UC San Diego and San Diego State University have teamed up to revamp the Mission Bay Aquatic Center (MBAC) to reduce its carbon footprint, improve its energy efficiency and make the facility platinum LEED (Leadership Energy and Environmental Design) certified, a nationally accepted benchmark for design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.

The students, under the supervision of UCSD’s LEED team head and sustainability analyst Michelle Perez, started the project by measuring and documenting ways in which the building already met LEED platinum requirements. They took a systematic approach to understanding the building’s energy efficiency by conducting energy and water audits, modeling the building’s airflow, interviewing staff members and surveying its occupants. Based on their collected information, they then determined new goals within MBAC policies to ensure the facility is operated with optimal sustainability for many years to come.

“Fortunately, little retrofitting and change to the equipment was necessary,” said Perez. “The structure had already received a 100-percent energy rating, meaning that it rates in the highest percentile of similar buildings.”

New recommendations to policies and goals were adopted, including “green” cleaning, sustainable purchasing and waste diversion. Through the students’ knowledgeable leadership and experience, they were able to save the MBAC — the largest instructional waterfront facility in the world — thousands of dollars in the LEED certification process, while advancing their own knowledge and talents in the growing movement.

“One of the selling factors of this endeavor was that UCSD’s USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) student group would teach SDSU’s student group, which is just getting started, how to help LEED-certify a building,” said Cory Trusty, president of UCSD’s USGBC student group.

UCSD’s USGBC student group has conducted more than five LEED certifications on campus, where the team has acquired sufficient knowledge and experience to not only self-certify buildings, but also to expand their knowledge to others in the community.

“I’m truly amazed when I see our members come together and work to-ward the common goal of improving the way we use resources,” said Trusty. “As students, we really do want to make positive change in the world.”

The USGBC is a network of students who are dedicated to helping raise environmental awareness and develop sustainable practices. For more information about UCSD’s sustainability efforts, visit sustainability.ucsd.edu. For more information about the Mission Bay Aquatic Center, visit www.mbaquaticcenter.com.
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