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Development and Early Implementation of a Green Building and Clean Energy Policy for a Major Public University System

Karl Brown, California Institute for Energy and Environment, University of California
Michael Bade, University of California

Inspired by the groundswell of interest in sustainable buildings and renewable energy, and supported by a major environmental advocacy group, students in the 10-campus University of California (UC) system have worked through the Student Regent to propose and gain Regental approval for a groundbreaking Green Building and Clean Energy policy. The rapidly growing UC system includes over 90 million gross square feet of floor area and a high percentage of laboratory space, constituting approximately 1% of the peak electricity load in California. Always pursuing improvements in design and retrofit of existing facilities, the UC system is now embarking on a major acceleration in advancement of energy management on its campuses.

We report on the process of policy development and on the early stages of implementation. One focus is on the different perspectives of the various stakeholder groups, including the barriers and opportunities perceived by each. Another focus is on public goods program funding secured by UC, in partnership with the California State University System (CSU) and California Investor-Owned Utilities, to help implement energy-efficiency provisions of the Policy. This funding will allow a major UC staff training and education program to be conducted in 2004-2005.


The Student Regent initiative tapped into the significant energy management expertise and research capability from Federal and California State institutions, as well as from within UC itself. The effort included an unprecedented level of communication between all stakeholder groups within UC, including students. The initiative received broad support from staff responsible for the University capital program in the Office of the President and on campuses. Consensus was reached and all participants increased their knowledge and understanding of the issues involved.

Best practice information, such as that available through the Laboratories for the 21st Century Program, was important in increasing stakeholder confidence that significant progress could be made toward sustainable campuses. The setting of clear goals was key to marshaling support, facilitating planning, and creating momentum for implementation of the Policy. Learning and increased communication achieved during the Policy development process allowed some campus sustainability efforts to proceed ahead of the Policy schedule, toward goals that would not have previously been thought possible.

Labs21 Connection:

The UC Green Building and Clean Energy Policy includes a design requirement for energy efficiency surpassing California Title 24 requirements by at least 20% for new non-laboratory and non-hospital facilities, as well a minimum design standard equivalent to a LEED™ 2.1 "Certified" rating and a design goal equivalent to a "Silver" rating. Appropriate equivalent goals for laboratories and hospitals are under development, to be based on Labs21 Environmental Performance Criteria. This will include attention to energy efficiency for systems not addressed by California Title 24.

Goals for retrofit of existing buildings, a mandate for increased efforts toward purchase of efficient equipment, and targets for the development of renewable energy resources are also covered by the Policy. In addition, the Policy encourages work with regulatory agencies and other agencies to speed the development, approval, and implementation of products and technologies that improve energy efficiency and support sustainable design, construction and operating practices.

Implementation will include a program for sharing of best practices and incorporation of the Policy into existing facilities-related training programs. Training and education planned for 2004-2005 includes the Labs21 High Performance Low-Energy Design Course and a seminar on Labs21 Environmental Performance Criteria.


Karl Brown is Deputy Director of the California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE), a part of the University of California Office of the President (UCOP). With twenty years experience in energy systems, Karl manages research in end-use energy efficiency and assists with energy planning for University of California facilities. His recent work has focused on the new Merced campus and on contributions to the development of a UC Green Building and Clean Energy Policy. Karl has been named 2003 Energy Engineer of the Year by the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Association of Energy Engineers.

Michael Bade is an architect and is Assistant Director, Design & Construction Services in the Office of the President, University of California. Responsibilities include oversight of design of new UC facilities, as part of a team overseeing the University capital program. Michael coordinated development of the Green Building portion of the recent UC Green Buildings & Clean Energy policy. Michael has 20 years experience in architecture, of which 12 were spent engaged on projects in Japan for multinational corporations, primarily in the financial services, software, and semiconductor industries.


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