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UCSB's Bren Hall a Model for Energy-Saving Ideas
Santa Barbara News-Press
by Dan Logan
September 10, 2001

Construction being expensive, people with the money to erect buildings usually spend conservatively. Designs usually call for what can be put up and operated at an acceptable cost.

While it makes sense to spend more on construction if that makes operational efficiencies that lead to great savings over the life of the building, it still takes a group of people with power, a lot of foresight and very thick skin to sign off on the construction of such a building.

UCSB's Bren Hall is one of those fortunate projects that made it past the chopping block. Employing a slew of energy-saving ideas, the building is expected to have operational costs at least 25 percent lower than its traditional counterpart.

Bren Hall is designed to take full advantage of its environment. For example, it is angled to take advantage of the steady breeze flowing off the ocean for summer cooling.

It makes good use of daylight to provide interior lighting. Materials recycled from automobile bodies - tires, cardboard, newspaper and wheat for example - were used throughout the building.

The project is intended not only to save the school money but also to demonstrate the feasibility of exploiting little-used methods of saving energy.

Cost data will be made public when the building is in use starting in 2002, which could provide a boost for more widespread use of energy-efficient methods in the building community.

At Thursday's luncheon meeting of the Science & Engineering Council of Santa Barbara, Jeff Dozier, professor of Environmental Science & Management at UCSB, and the founding dean of Bren Hall, will describe the application of energy-saving techniques in a talk titled "Greening the University: Lessons from Bren Hall."

In the lurid glare cast by the state's energy boondoggle, the Bren building's energy efficiency looks sweet indeed.

The SEC meeting will be held from 12 noon .to 1:30 p.m. at the Elephant Bar and Restaurant, 521 Firestone Road, off Hollister Avenue near the airport administration office in Goleta.

Cost is $12 for SEC members, $15 for nonmembers.

Contact: Barbara Keaney or 684-4927, or check the Web site at

Reservations are not required, and the meeting is open to the public.