UCSB Students LEED by Example

by:Kaitlin Carney, Noah Eckhous, and Timothy Jacobs

A group of students from the University of California, Santa Barbara are wrapping up a year-long course in green building in which they worked through the process of LEED certifying a campus building. The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification recognizes Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and offers a holistic approach to green building. The building’s initial design and construction in 2006 earned it a LEED Silver Certification, but now the team has high hopes for Gold, or even Platinum.

In addition to aiming for the highest award offered by LEED, the course itself sets many standards. Offering students an opportunity to gain hands-on, practical experience with the building certification process, the course is the first of its kind. With both undergraduate and graduate students, the multidisciplinary team represents many majors including Environmental Science, Geography, Physics, and Engineering. In addition, it is led by two UCSB alumni and LEED Accredited Professionals, Cassidy Green and Brandon Kaysen.

The project’s focus, the Student Resource Building (or SRB), was built in 2006 to provide students with connections to resources that include clubs, tutoring, and study spaces. Its initial certification fell under LEED’s New Construction standards. Now, it will be certified according to standards for an Existing Building which includes operation and maintenance.

Back in September, the students began their journey with a crash course in green building. With diverse backgrounds and varying levels of experience in the green building field, the students were exposed to the entire LEED process and familiarized themselves with the many requirements a certification entails. With input and feedback from the building users, the students split into teams and got to work on their portion of the project. This included performing energy audits, updating cleaning and maintenance policies, replacing aerators on sink faucets, and surveying the building users. One of the changes implemented by the group included adjusting an interior lighting schedule that is estimated to save about $3,200 annually. More involved modifications included an LED lighting retrofit for much of the building. Interaction with the staff and building users was key throughout the project. A survey distributed to SRB staff discovered that there was a significant issue with comfort due to excess sunlight on one side of the building. The team was able to remedy the issue by working with Associated Students to install tinting on the South facing windows, thereby increasing thermal efficiency and occupant comfort.

This course comes at a time when the University of California system has implemented a range of impressive sustainability policies, including requiring all newly-constructed buildings to achieve LEED Silver certification. As a result of its many campus-wide sustainability initiatives, UC Santa Barbara was recently ranked as the greenest public university in the nation. But with the integration of the students into the process, this course has taken it a step further. And the learning won’t end with the building’s certification in June. Now that the documentation has been sent into the USGBC, the students await the certification results with excited anticipation and have turned the focus to their own accreditation. They are now well-prepared to pass the LEED Green Associate exam and many plan to do so in the coming months.

The lessons we learned in our time working on LEED certification are not limited to the scope of our project. Without much effort, the typical tenant can implement a variety of energy conservation measures in their home. These range from simply turning off lights to replacing turf with drought-tolerant alternatives. We have provided a short list of suggestions that our readers can apply to their own living situations.

Water Reduction Tips:

  • Make sure all fixtures are fitted with low-flow aerators
  • Retrofit high-capacity toilets with an internal reservoir to reduce volume per flush
  • Replace sprinklers with drip irrigation
  • Replace nonnative plants with adaptive/native alternatives

Energy Reduction Tips:

  • Replace light bulbs with LED substitutes
  • Add dimmable controls to LED lighting (increases lifespan and saves money)
  • Eliminate unnecessary lighting, consider putting lights on a timer
  • Put outdoor lighting on a schedule or occupancy sensors
  • Install adjustable awnings
  • Apply window glazing to increase thermal efficiency and occupant comfort

General Environmental Tips:

  • Separate compostable waste from trash and compost it
  • If remodeling, look for green labels, like FSC-certified wood

If you want to learn more about LEED and their rating systems go to their website. They have rating systems for nearly every type of building including offices, homes, and new construction projects.

University of California Holds $234 Million in Filthy 15 Coal Corporations

From the Chicago Reader

Data in a new report authored by California Student Sustainability Coalition alumni Sarah Siedschlag and published by the University of California reveals that the University of California Regents have something on the order of $234 million dollars worth of holdings in 15 of the largest coal companies. Titled “Reducing California Higher Education’s Support of and Dependence on Coal”, the report follows the trail of millions of dollars from public education coffers to big oil endowment funds and makes the case for stronger clean energy investment policies.


California Student Sustainability Coalition

For More Information: Kitty Bolte, Outreach Coordinator: (831) 227-8757 kitty@sustainabilitycoalition.org

University of California Holds $234 Million in Filthy 15 Coal Corporations
CSU, CCC Holdings Opaque, Students See Opportunity for Responsible Investment Alternatives

According to data released today, the University of California Regents hold $234 million in 15 of the largest coal mining and coal burning corporations including Massey Energy, Patriot Coal, and Ameren Corp., with millions more possibly in individual campus foundations.“These findings are a much-needed first step. Our public universities have for years been at the forefront of implementing best practices in sustainability, but this needs to extend to investment practices as well. Together, our schools have enormous power to influence the market. Endowments need to reflect the values and goals of our community, rather than environmental destruction for profit,” said Andrew Chang, Campaign Director for the California Student Sustainability Coalition.Records of endowment holdings through 2011 show that the $234 million the UC holds in the “Filthy 15” coal companies includes:

  • $25.8 million in Southern Company, the 4th largest carbon polluter internationally;
  • $12.1 million in Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private sector coal company;
  • $19.1 million in Duke Energy, responsible for 1,248 deaths due to pollution in 2009

These numbers reflect only assets held centrally by the UC Treasurer and do not include individual campus foundations.

This data is from a new report, “Reducing California Higher Education’s Support of and Dependence on Coal,” authored by Sarah Siedschlag, a CSSC Alumni and recent graduate of the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UC Santa Barbara. The report details investment structures in UC, CSU, and CCC systems, endowment holdings in the “Filthy 15” coal corporations, and identifies paths forward. Student campaigns for sustainable investments are currently active at UC Los Angeles, UC Berkeley, and at UC Santa Barbara.

This is an incredible opportunity for schools in California to cement their reputations as the greenest in the nation,” stated Chelsea Lauwereins, a campus organizer at UC Santa Barbara. “Creating transparency in endowment holdings, divesting from coal, and responsibly investing in the clean energy sector are vital steps to building not only 100% clean energy campuses, but our nation’s clean energy economy. UCSB’s student body and many faculty and staff are in support of this initiative and we hope to work collaboratively with administration to achieve these goals.”


The California Student Sustainability Coalition is a network of over 30 UC, CSU, CCC, and private colleges and universities in California, united to transform our institutions of higher education into models of sustainability.

Click here to download this Press Release

Reducing California Higher Education’s Support of and Dependency on Coal


Carrot Mob UCSB from EAB

A Carrotmob is a method of activism that leverages consumer power to make the most socially-responsible business practices also the most profitable choices. Businesses compete with one another to see who can do the most good, and then a big mob of consumers buys products in order to reward whichever business made the strongest commitment to improve the world. It’s the opposite of a boycott.We asked all of the liquor stores in Isla Vista, “What percentage of the day’s gross revenue would you be willing to reinvest into energy efficient technologies like new lighting or insulation for the freezers?” Isla Vista Market submitted the highest bid, pledging to commit 20 percent of the revenue generated on November 21st (2009) from 1-5pm to be re-invested in to the store in the form of green technologies.In four hours we generated approximately $5,500 in revenue and had over 500 people shop at IV Market, resulting in $1,100 of energy efficient retrofits to their store. On a typical Saturday between 1-5pm IV Market brings in approximately $2,000 in revenue, so we considered the project a huge the success.

The Environmental Affairs Board (UCSB group hosting the Carrotmob event) partnered with Sun (re)construction LLC, which is a full-service consultancy and project management firm that is focused on generating effective deep energy savings for retrofit and new construction projects, to manage the retrofit of Isla Vista Market.

Through numerous audits and long discussions, EAB and Sun (re)construction were able to generate a long-term plan for Isla Vista Market that would make the store as close to a net-zero energy business as possible, all while providing a payback on investment within five years. The retrofit to the store will be conducted in a phased progression, with phase one being a complete redesign and replacement of the stores lighting system, phase two focuses on replacing old refrigerators and compressors with the most efficient new technologies available, and phase three will be the instillation of a photovoltaic system on the roof of the store.

Construction on Isla Vista Market is scheduled to begin on March 15th, 2010 and the tentative date of completion for all three phases is July 15th. The cost of the full retrofit is not concrete at this point but is estimated at $100,000 to $150,000.

What makes the concept of a Carrotmob so appealing is the partnership that is built between students, faculty members, and local businesses. Students at research-based universities are in great need of projects that provide them with hands-on, practical work and local businesses have the opportunity to build long-term relationships with student organizations from the near bye campus. This is a special event that provides all participating groups with beneficial roles.There is an easy-to-read Carrotmob manual that coaches would-be group organizers at each step along in the process. This manual allows for students, who would typically not be able to organize an event of this magnitude, to progress through the campaign with a set of guidelines and instructions.

A Carrotmob is an entirely positive campaign which does not seek to portray non-supportive businesses in a negative light, but instead encourages consumers to make conscious decisions that will benefit their local community and environment. The positive nature of the campaign is complimented well by the fun atmosphere of the day’s event and is a natural draw to all types of people. For this project to be successful it was necessary for students, faculty members, business owners, and working professionals to all be striving towards the same goal. The focus and direction of the campaign was in the hands of the students but relied on counseling from faculty members, support from local businesses, and the professional “know-how” from the working professionals.

The owners of Isla Vista Market made the event unique to their own store by pledging to be plastic bag free on the day of the event. Additionally, Isla Vista Market partnered with the County of Santa Barbara to have the business certified as a “Green Business” by the Green Business Program of Santa Barbara County.Sun (re)construction, which is a company founded and operated by a UCSB alum, enabled the project to move forward in a way that neither students nor faculty members were capable of doing. Sun (re)construction was especially good throughout the project because of their ability to involve students from the campaign in the meetings and audits that were conducted.

In the campaign to the businesses I told the story of Keg N Bottle Market in Isla Vista (which is a grocery store similar in characteristics to Isla Vista Market), which in January of 2009 invested approximately $40,000 in energy efficient technology for their liquor store. The upgrades, which primarily focused on more efficient lighting systems and upgrades to refrigeration appliances, saved Keg N Bottle $4,800 on their first energy bill. The savings created by the new technologies had a payback on initial investment of less than nine months and would provide these types of savings for years to come. The system that will be introduced into Isla Vista Market includes newer and better technologies and is more widespread, because of these traits I believe the savings will be even deeper than that just described about Keg N Bottle. If money is being saved, energy consumption at the same time must be decreasing!

Learn more about Carrot Mob

Environmental Education for the Next Generation (EENG) at UCSB

Environmental Education for the Next Generation (EENG) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by undergraduate students at the University of California, Santa Barbara. We train and place teams of college-aged volunteers into 1st and 2nd grade classrooms for weekly lessons that spread environmental awareness to our youth. Our program features:

  • Interactive activities and experiments that foster critical thinking about the world we live in.
  • Youth-to-youth mentorship and encouragement that bring education to life and empower young people to make a positive impact on their surroundings.
  • Unique curriculum that aligns closely with California’s Education Standards, serving to enhance existing classroom activities.
  • Dynamic structure designed to meet the diverse scheduling and curricular needs of our teachers. We are happy to adjust lessons as needed, ensuring our program is as enriching as possible in any class setting.

For more information visit http://www.eengonline.org/ or join us on Facebook.

For more information contact the EENG Team at info@eengonline.org