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Today's Architects Offer "High Touch" to Tomorrow's Schools: Greenest of the Green
AIArchitect, September 2000

Zimmer Gunsul Fransca Partnership's 84,672-square-foot Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which broke ground this spring, is one of the first 12 buildings to be honored by the U.S. Green Building Council for achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) comprehensive ranking for sustainability in design, construction, technologies, and practices.

When completed in 2002, the school will provide faculty and administrative offices, research and teaching laboratories, and seminar rooms for the applied and quantitative ecology, earth systems sciences, environmental engineering, environmental microbiology and toxicology, and environmental policy and resource management programs. The design features an open courtyard uniting the lab building and two office wings. This ground-level courtyard primarily supports pedestrian circulation, and upper-level walk-ways allow access to offices as well as spaces to planned and serendipitous interdepartmental interaction.

Planning for the building began in 1992 and has included reviews and comments by the Rocky Mountain Institute, Southern California Edison, and the California Energy Commission. From landscaping to finishes, the architects incorporated energy-efficient and environmentally sound techniques, including natural lighting and cooling through operable windows, energy-efficient lighting fixtures and bulbs, furniture constructed of recycled wheat husks and newspaper, floor tiles from recycled tires, and a reclaimed-water toilet flushing system. Jeff Dozier, the school's dean, has characterized the school as a "building that teaches. It will be the greenest building on campus by a wide margin," he said.