New UCSB Building Will Set Environmental
Santa Barbara News-Press
By Scott Hadly
February 20, 2000
From ceramic bathroom tiles made of recycled glass
to sensors for lighting a room only when someone walks in, the fine
details going into the redesign and "greening" of UCSBs
$22 million Bren Hall are nearly complete.
Work on the structure will begin after the last touches
on the plan are done in late March. When construction is finished, sometime
in 2002, the four-story home for the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management will be the most environmentally sensitive building
in the entire University of California System.
"What we are shooting for is not just the greenest building in the UC system, which we will have," said Jeff Dozier, dean of the school. "What we want to do is create a new standard for construction not just at UCSB but throughout the whole university system."
The greening redesign of the building has been prodded
along by Dozier and a group of advisors. When state officials agreed
to pay for the construction in 1992- pending the approval of a state
bond- they said they would not cover the costs for making the building
an experiment in environmental sensitivity. It was Dozier and the advisor
committee who pushed to incorporate those design features into the building,
which will add about $1 million to the cost of construction.
With creative financing and partnerships with private
companies, Dozier is working to cover the costs. Some are being absorbed
by companies whose products are being used in the building. Southern
California Edison is helping to make the building a living laboratory
and showcase to demonstrate energy efficient technology.
Bren Hall is part of a small but growing trend toward more sustainable building practices that maximize energy efficiency and minimize the use of non-renewable or toxic materials in construction. In 1989, the Natural Resources Defense Council, rebuilt an industrial loft space in New York for its headquarters with green products and super energy efficient designs. The NRDC was attempting to show that green construction could be both environmentally and financially sound.
Most recently, Oberlin College opened its new environmental
studies center, which includes solar panels that convert sunlight into
electricity, an organic system for recycling wastewater, and the use
of only sustainably harvested wood for the construction. The new headquarters
for the state Environmental Protection Agency in Sacramento also includes
these features in its sustainable design.
The trend also has influenced design and aesthetics,
opening up buildings to take advantage of natural lighting and creating
structures on a less grand, more inviting scale.
The yet-to-be-built Bren Hall and some of the other
newer buildings on campus which use this new approach contrast sharply
with some of the more overwrought and less though-out structures here,
including a huge engineering building next to the bluffs overlooking
Goleta Beach with no windows on the side that faces the sea.
"Buildings should fit into their environment,"
Dozier said, "designed with their surroundings in mind."
Bren Hall will become part of an eclectic mix of buildings
on campus, where old frame U.S. Marine buildings dating from the World
War II period are shadowed by Eisenhower-era monoliths next to brand
new sprawling pastel-colored research labs.
Named after Orange County developer Donald Bren, who
gave the school $15 million in 1997, the school opened in 1996. Masters
and doctoral candidates at the school study the legal, business, political
and scientific aspects of environmental policy.
Bren Hall is likely to make a mark- already having
an influence on new buildings both here and elsewhere in the university
"It sets the direction we want to go in,"
said Gary Matteson, the interim director of facilities management and
construction for the entire UC system. "They want to make a statement
with that building not just to their students, that this school and
the building its housed in represent the future thinking for the
university and the nation and leads the way for sustainable building
The chancellor of the planned UC Merced, is pushing
to include sustainable building designs in the construction of the new
campus, Matteson said. A new marine science building planned for UCSB
and a new research facility at UC San Francisco are also incorporating
more environmentally friendly design features.
"I think everybody on the docket for new construction is watching what were doing," Dozier said.