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Campus Awarded First LEED Gold Certification for
'Green' Remodel of Child Development Center Building

Rex Graham | February 8, 2010

Eighteen preschoolers sang “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” Friday morning for their parents, teachers, UC San Diego students, campus officials, architects and contractors gathered at the university’s Mesa Child Development Center for an important environmental milestone for the campus.

Photo of Gary Kath and kids
Gary Matthews, right, called the remodeling of the Mesa Child Development Center “a labor of love.” He celebrated the center’s LEED “Gold” certification with the center’s students, lead teacher Matthew Proctor, seated, and Kathryn Owen, director of Early Care and Education for UC San Diego.

The children’s sweetly articulated environmental message was the focal point of a celebration to mark the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) “Gold” certification of the building, the first LEED Gold certification for a UC San Diego building. The certification recognized the remodeling of the building, which incorporated lumber cut from sustainable forests, heat-reflecting windows that lower air-conditioning costs, irrigation sprinklers that conserve water and many other sustainable-building features. 

“Clearly, this was a labor of love for all of us to give to the children,” Gary Matthews, vice chancellor for Resource Management and Planning, said at the celebration. 

The 1,800-square-foot building on the East campus adjacent to the Mesa Housing Complex also features water-efficient landscaping, natural ventilation and light-concentrating cylindrical “solatubes” that, with windows and skylights, make indoor lighting unnecessary during the day. The center, which now has an exterior LEED “Gold” plaque, provides half-day (morning or afternoon) childcare for about 24 pre-school children of UC San Diego affiliates. The children learn about sustainability every day under the dimmable solatubes that can be darkened as needed. The Mesa Child Development Center is part of the campus’s nearby Early Childhood Education Center.

“The LEED certification for the child development center is especially gratifying because so many children are learning first-hand how to be stewards of the planet,” Matthews said. “They are truly our future, and this is a pleasant way to remind them of our collective concern for the environment.”

Photo of kidsproject
The 24 children attending the Mesa Child Development Center created an “umbrella sculpture” with materials recycled from their classroom.

LEED certification plaques are becoming a common sight on the UC San Diego campus. Completed last year, the ocean-front conference center at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the extraordinary Scripps Seaside Forum, was awarded LEED “Certification” in August 2009.

UC San Diego’s Campus Services Complex received LEED “Silver” certification in December 2009, an achievement made possible not only by a variety of energy- and resource-conserving retrofits, but also by the efforts of Green Campus Interns who managed the LEED record-keeping and application process under the supervision of engineers with the Auxiliary and Plant Services Department.

“With cutbacks in our department because of state budget cuts, our interns were really invaluable in making many of our LEED projects possible, without them we would not have had the resources necessary to complete the LEED certification process,” said Russell Thackston, assistant vice chancellor of Auxiliary and Plant Services. “After graduation, many of these interns have continued to distinguish themselves in careers or graduate schools that focus on environmental sustainability.”

UC San Diego is committed to sustainability in all renovations and new construction projects, as well as in the operation and maintenance of existing campus buildings. LEED certification is based on a point system for energy efficiency features, use of renewable and recyclable materials in construction and furnishings, low water usage and other features.

Nine buildings currently under construction or still in the design phase are expected to receive LEED Silver or Gold certification. Eleven additional campus buildings that have been completed or are under construction have achieved or are in the process of achieving Certified or Silver ratings through a University of California program that has criteria similar to LEED certification. The campus is also pursuing LEED certification for three renovation projects currently underway and is “greening” the operation and maintenance of three other existing campus buildings through the “LEED for Existing Buildings” program.    


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