Building for the Future

The Case for Green Buildings and Energy Security for the University of California

The following are excerpts from Building for the Future: The Case for Green Buildings and Energy Security for the University of California. To read the full report, please download the PDF file by clicking on the link to the left.

As one of the largest real estate developers in the state, the University of California faces an extraordinary opportunity to align its building and facility needs with California’s and America’s goals to increase energy security and independence, reduce environmental threats, protect public health, enhance educational environments, and provide jobs and economic well-being. 

This paper presents a vision of how the University, steered by its Regents, can claim a leadership role by embracing the goals of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green-building practices in all of its building projects. It shows how doing so can be cost-competitive with conventional building practices when considering a building’s life-cycle costs; the benefits to the University at various levels; and the benefits to the communities surrounding University campuses and facilities and to the State of California and its citizens.

Specifically, this paper describes how the Regents of the University of California could justify adoption of a University-wide policy requiring that all new and remodeled buildings be designed to operate on a minimum of 25% “green” energy sources, with at least 10% of its energy needs derived from on-site, renewable resources such as solar photovoltaic energy systems; and that all new building projects be designed and constructed to meet the Silver-level guidelines of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Green Building Rating System.

It is an ambitious plan, but it is not unprecedented. A growing number of universities, community colleges, and other academic institutions around the United States are making commitments to sustainable building practices. They are joined by forward-thinking cities, counties, states, and businesses making similar commitments. Moreover, the policies and practices proposed in this paper directly address the energy goals of both President George W. Bush and Governor Gray Davis, as well as the desires of the University’s student body and California’s citizens, as expressed through resolutions, opinion polls, and other means.

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