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Projects To Receive Honors At Higher Education Sustainability Conference

Published: June 15, 2015

A trio of CSULB projects will be recognized as energy efficiency and sustainability best practices at the upcoming 11th annual California Higher Education Sustainability Conference at San Francisco State University. The conference, taking place July 20-24, highlights cutting-edge research, as well as case studies with proven successes in curriculum development, operational programs and community partnerships. The event is jointly organized by independent and private colleges, the California Community Colleges, the California State University and the University of California, creating the opportunity for dialogue across institutions.

A signatory university to the American Colleges and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), CSULB has a long history of sustainability and is dedicated to preserving the environment and reducing the campus’ reliance on fossil-based fuels.

“CSULB is committed to being sustainable to benefit future generations,” said Paul Wingco, energy and sustainability manager in Physical Planning and Facilities Management. “We take to heart our pledge to the ACUPCC and the university is taking very specific actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and committing to more sustainability across the campus.”

The three projects that will be recognized include:

CSULB’s Liberal Arts 2, 3 and 4 Renovation Project which was awarded the top honor for overall sustainable design. The renovations of the buildings included seismic safety upgrades, interiors renovated to meet current program requirements, conversion of 26 classrooms to active learning classrooms, drought tolerant landscaping in courtyards, and changes in the operations of the buildings to be more energy and sustainable, all while providing a safe and enhanced learning environment. The renovation was completed in January.

Collectively, the three buildings will now save 144,766 kWh annually. To put that into perspective, that is enough energy to power 99 trips from Los Angeles to New York and back driving a Tesla Model S electric car.

In addition to the reductions in energy use, the drought tolerant landscape design will also reduce water irrigation use by 52 percent.

“This project was an excellent example of an adaptive reuse project,” said David Salazar, associate vice president in Physical Planning and Facilities Management. “Rather than demolishing the existing 1950-era structures and rebuilding from scratch, we were successful in modernizing and retrofitting the existing building to reduce the need to use new building materials. This also reduced our greenhouse gas emissions because the older buildings on campus are inefficient because of the antiquated mechanical and lighting systems.”

CSULB also received honorable mention for two other projects—Molecular Life Science and Chemistry Lab HVAC Controls Retrofit project (HVAC Design/Retrofit category) and Water Action Plan projects (Water Efficiency and Site Water Quality category).

Laboratory buildings are the largest energy-consuming facilities within a campus environment and present the best opportunity to save significant amounts of electricity and natural gas. The HVAC retrofits in the Molecular Life Science and Chemistry building resulted in addressing comfort issues while enhancing lab safety conditions and drastically reducing energy use—an estimated 917,384 kWh resulting in savings of more than $100,000 annually.

CSULB has been implementing water conservation projects as part of the campus’ overall sustainability goals including transitioning to drought tolerant landscaping, converting landscape areas to drip irrigation, use of waterless and low flow urinals, installing touch free automatic faucets with low flow restrictors, installing weather based central irrigation controllers, and using reclaimed water for irrigation. CSULB plans to continue these efforts and will actively search for new opportunities to conserve its precious water resources.

The first phase of projects at CSULB received honorable mention as best practices in the Water Efficiency and Site Water Quality category.

The various projects in that phase included installation of low flow restrictors for faucets and shower heads throughout student housing, low flow toilets and urinals and the replacement of filtration in the pond in the campus’ Japanese Garden. Annually, the projects will collectively reduce water usage on the campus by an estimated 20.2 million gallons resulting in a savings of $59,000.

These projects are just a few of the university’s ongoing efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and water usage to make it a more sustainable campus.