By Rick Thomas and Lisa Leombruni
On August 17th 2017, Bren Hall received a LEED Platinum recertification for its Operation and Maintenance, the highest level of sustainability a building can attain. This award is the third Platinum certification Bren has achieved, making it the first such building in the world to receive this honor. The recertification process was the culmination of 10 months of hard work led by the building’s Facilities Director, Sage Davis, with the help of Bren alum Brandon Kaysen and a team of dedicated Bren students.
In order to achieve a Platinum certification, the building needed to achieve a total 80 LEED credits across the eight topics. Through the help of Davis and his team, Bren Hall received a total of 93 credits. With this recertification, the building will not need to be recertified for another 4-5 years.
Reaching this certification was truly a Bren community effort. Throughout his many years at UCSB, Davis has discovered that the students, faculty, and staff at Bren are always willing to support sustainability initiatives…even if it means digging through garbage. The building-wide waste audits that take place in the heart of the Bren courtyard are opportunity for the community to come together and discover what they are throwing away. Volunteers sort through the building’s many recycling, trash, and compost bins while Davis walks around in a lab-coat, cracking jokes and lending a helping hand. There are plenty of other opportunities to get involved with sustainability around Bren as well, such as the quarterly cleaning of the building’s solar panels in order to improve their efficiency (a task that is probably incentivized by the amazing ocean views the rooftop presents). These opportunities not only fulfill important requirements for recertification but also make the community more aware and invested in sustainability.
A crucial component to the recertification’s success was a LEED-laboratory course facilitated by Davis and Bren alum Brandon Kaysen. Following the Bren School’s mission, this course gave students applicable, hands-on experience as they worked together to help Bren achieve Platinum. Over the past three quarters, Davis, Kaysen and the students put in long hours to evaluate Bren across eight sustainability topics which serve as the bulk of the LEED certification requirements, including water efficiency, energy, materials, indoor air quality, location and transportation.
The recertification efforts were documented by the team of Bren students enrolled in the LEED course, who describe below what it was like to review each of the certification categories. Read on to get an inside look of what it’s like to make Bren the greenest building in the US!