Building, Community Garden Project Earn Sustainability Awards

School of Medicine Research Building and student-led community garden initiative will receive awards at conference in July

(May 16, 2011)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- The University of California, Riverside will receive sustainability awards for its new School of Medicine Research Building and a student-led community garden initiative.

The School of Medicine building will receive the overall sustainable design award and the community garden initiative, Cultivate R-Space, will get the campus-community partnerships awards at the seventh annual Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Best Practice Awards competition.

Entries are drawn from public universities and community colleges in California. About 100 were received this year. The awards will be handed out at California Higher Education Sustainability Conference, which is being held July 10 to 14 at California State University, Long Beach.

"This is a great opportunity to shine," said John Cook, UC Riverside's sustainability coordinator. "With this building and this student-led initiative we are doing that."

Cultivate R-Space is working with community-based organizations, including Growcology, a nonprofit in Riverside that creates sustainable programs, and Riverside's Parks and Recreation Department, to identify usable space that will be offered for community gardens. Students and community members will cultivate the gardens in a program they hope will be replicated nationwide.

The initiative had its origins in a student-led seminar developed by Fortino Morales in spring 2010. He created the seminar under the auspices of UC Riverside's Undergraduate Research in the Community program.

Since then, the seminar has been offered several times. The plan is to make it a permanent class. Morales worked with two second-year students, Elizabeth Tizcareno and Cynthia De Leon, who will take over when he graduates in June.

In addition to the award, the initiative received a $10,000 grant in January from Learn & Serve America. Undergraduate Research in the Community program also provided $15,000.

The grant has supported field trips and paid for tools that the 14 students in the seminar this quarter use at the community garden on campus.

The students in the seminar have also been attending every-other-week workshops at Growcology. The workshops, which are also open to community members, aim to teach people how to start community gardens and improve their backyard gardens.

"It's a really cool opportunity to work with a community organization interested in the same issues," Morales said.

The School of Medicine Research Building opened in March. The three-story, 58,000 square foot is designed to meet the LEED Silver standards of the U.S. Green Building Council.

"Recognition of the building is evidence of the strides that UC Riverside is making to achieve a carbon neutral campus," said Don Caskey, UC Riverside campus architect.

The building has cloud cover sensors that activate motorized window shades which deploy during peak sun hours to keep the building cool in Riverside's desert climate. With this system, it's estimated that lighting won't be needed 80 percent of the time.

Through a process called "night flushing," air is filtered into the building at night to cool the concrete structure of the building. The concrete slabs and walls remain cool into the day, limiting the need for air conditioning during summer days when triple-digit temperatures are common.

The goal is to use 60 percent less energy than a typical lab building and 42 percent less than California's Title 24 Energy Code. Within the building, water use is expected to cut by 30 percent. Outside, through water-efficient landscaping, irrigation use is expected to be cut by 50 percent.

The building was designed by SRG Partnership, Inc. and built by Barnhart Balfour Beatty.

This blog post was approved by www.SchoolFacilities, a New Venture Communications web property.

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