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LEED platinum for building that’s green from top to bottom

By Dave Jones on December 17, 2013 in University

A month after being named a Green Building Super Hero, UC Davis has scored another platinum award for sustainable construction: the Segundo Services Center.

How green is it? A portion of the roof is “alive” with drought-tolerant grasses and other greenery. More about that later.

Located in the Segundo student housing area, the services center brings to six the number of UC Davis projects with LEED platinum certification — the highest rating in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

The $23 million, three-story Segundo Services Center opened in the fall of 2011, replacing a one-story building that at one time housed the dining commons in the Segundo student housing area.

The new center, encompassing 34,632 gross square feet, houses many of the residential area’s services, including the Area Service Desk, Academic Advising Center, computer center, convenience store, recreation room, central mail room, meeting rooms, study areas, maintenance shop and office space.

The UC system requires new construction to meet LEED silver requirements (and to be at least 20 percent more efficient than required under the state Energy Code).

UC Davis doesn’t settle for silver, instead achieving gold or platinum status for seven projects since 2007. “Upholding the high campus standard meant sustainability was a primary focus of the Segundo Services Center project from design to construction,” according to a case study on the project.

The center is the second building at UC Davis with a partially green roof. The Student Health and Wellness Center (certified LEED gold) has the other.

Each rooftop plot — Segundo’s is the larger of the two, at about 1,500 square feet — absorbs sunlight that would otherwise be converted to heat energy. With less heat energy, there’s a reduction in what is known as the urban heat island effect.

In addition, rooftop soil beds serve as added insulation for the building and capture rainwater, thus reducing storm runoff.

Then, in the case of the Segundo Services Center, there’s the aesthetic value for people who sit on the rooftop patio next to the garden, and for the Gilmore Hall residents whose rooms overlook the services center.

“The rooftop garden is another in a long list of green features that make our buildings and our campus more livable,” said Sid England, assistant vice chancellor for Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability.

Roof also holds solar panels

Student Housing — which sponsored the Segundo Services Center project — embraced the opportunity to include so many green technologies and practices, said Mike Sheehan, director of Facilities Services.

“This building will touch thousands of lives — student residents and visitors and people who work in the Segundo Area — projecting a positive image for years to come,” he said. “Student Housing has a long-standing commitment to sustainability. Achieving LEED platinum is a testament to that commitment.”

The garden isn’t the only green feature on the Segundo Services Center roof. It also holds an array of photovoltaic panels that turn the sun’s energy into about 79,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year — offsetting almost 8 percent of the center’s annual energy costs.

The building design itself cuts the energy costs almost in half, by 43.3 percent off the national baseline.

The center features an improved thermal envelope and a “chilled beam” system for more efficient temperature control; demand control ventilation (along with windows that open!); and high efficiency glazing.

Lighting features include occupancy sensors and reduced power usage. The maintenance workshop, on most days, has sufficient natural daylight from solar light tubes.

The center also boasts considerable reductions in water use, inside and out:

  • Inside — 43 percent, attributed to low-flow toilets, urinals and faucets — and showers, too (for employees who bike to work).
  • Outside — 52.3 percent, attributed to “smart” irrigation controls with rain sensors and pressure-regulating sprinklers.

The center’s LEED platinum certification also takes into account:

  • Construction materials — 20 percent include recycled content, 12.5 percent of all materials came from within a 500-mile radius, and the materials emit low or no volatile organic compounds.
  • Landfill diversion — Only 15.4 of the debris from demolition and construction went to the landfill.

Other green touches: guided tours for students and others, along with a brochure explaining the center’s environmentally friendly features; and a green cleaning program to reduce the exposure of occupants to potentially hazardous contaminants.

The team behind the green

San Francisco’s BAR Architects came up with the initial design, and a design-build team took it from there: WRNS Studio, based in San Francisco, and McCarthy Building Companies, with offices in Sacramento and San Francisco and elsewhere across the United States. UC Davis’ Design and Construction Management oversaw the work.

Here are UC Davis’ other LEED platinum projects (with year of certification):

  • Student Community Center, 2013
  • Gladys Valley Hall (School of Veterinary Medicine), 2012
  • Gallagher Hall (Graduate School of Management) and the adjoining UC Davis Conference Center (one certification), 2011
  • Winery, brewery and food science laboratory, 2011
  • Tahoe Environmental Research Center, 2007


UC Davis Green Building Ratings

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Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,