School of Medicine Research Building Receives Prestigious LEED Gold Certification

Building is the first on the UCR campus to receive recognition from United States Green Building Council

The School of Medicine Research Building window detail.

The windows of the School of Medicine Research Building have automatic solar shades that control the amount of natural light that enters the building.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — The School of Medicine Research Building at the University of California, Riverside has received LEED Gold Certification by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), recognizing efforts to design and build a facility with measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

The award, along with information about the green building will be on display Thursday at the UCR Bell Tower as part of the campus’ Earth Week events. The building is the first on the UCR campus to receive any level of LEED certification.

School of Medicine Research Building Exterior

The exterior of the School of Medicine Research Building at UC Riverside.

The School of Medicine Research Building (SOMRB) is a three-story, 58,000 square foot building that features highly flexible biomedical and population health research facilities that can accommodate a variety of disciplines. It was originally designed by SRG Partnership, Inc. to meet LEED Silver requirements, but Campus Architect Don Caskey and Sustainability Coordinator John Cook were able to document that the university had taken its environmental efforts to the next level.

“We went back in and found points that hadn’t been applied for, such as restoring habitat, maximize open space, alternative transportation parking, heat island effect,” Cook said, explaining that the certification process requires documentation of all claims.

LEED certification was developed by the USGBC in 2000 and features four different levels: platinum, gold, silver and “certified.” Buildings are given points for reaching specific milestones in a variety of areas, including sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. The University of California Office of the President has made a system-wide commitment that all new campus construction and renovations meet a minimum of LEED Silver standards.

“To have our School of Medicine Research Building achieve the LEED Gold rating is a tremendous accomplishment because it is challenging especially to design and construct a laboratory building with the sustainability features necessary for this prestigious certification,” said G. Richard Olds, dean of the medical school. “In addition to its green design and operation, this building will provide the advanced research facilities necessary to recruit the additional faculty we will need to open the medical school and train more physicians for our region.”

“For our first LEED certified project to make gold is marvelous,” Caskey said. “It has a lot of innovations, and I like the fact that we are on the cutting edge, trying things. We are out of the box with a bang and it sets the stage for where we are going with future construction.”

Caskey said that the new Glen Mor II housing project will seek LEED Gold certification in 2014 and that the campus would be pursuing LEED Existing Building: Operations and Maintenance (EBOM) certification on several older campus buildings.

Cook said it is a major accomplishment for a laboratory building like SOMRB to earn LEED Gold Certification due to the power demands of laboratory equipment.

“It is much harder to get the energy efficiencies with a lab because of the amount of energy needed for the vent hoods. You are taking all the air out of the building about every six minutes,” he said. “And yet, we were able to achieve that without increasing risk.”

School of Medicine Research Building Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans are used to reduce heating and cooling costs.

Cook said that his favorite feature of the building is the automatic solar shades that measure the amount of light coming into a room and deploy as necessary. They are one of the more obvious energy efficient refinements that also include natural habitat landscaping instead of turfgrass, ceiling fans and LED lighting. But Cook said there are many behind-the-scenes aspects that most people will never see.

“That is just the way you want it,” he said. “You don’t think about it, but you are able to see better, to breathe better, to work better. That is what we are looking for.”

UCR now has a LEED analyst on staff who will manage future projects, including the Glen Mor 2 Housing Project currently under construction on the northeast side of campus. Having an internal position saves costs and facilitates the construction.

“Weston Lewis, our LEED analyst is helping us gain a lot of institutional knowledge about the process,” Cook said. “You can have a building that is healthy, efficient and aesthetically pleasing and still be cost-effective. But as we make buildings more efficient, they are going to get more complicated and we need to be ready to meet those challenges.”

“We’re not just chasing after certifications. We are using this to help us build the right kind of buildings for our environment and our campus,” he added.

In addition to the LEED Certification, the building has already been recognized with several awards, including:

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-4756

Additional Contacts

John Cook, Campus Sustainability Coordinator
Tel: (951) 827-1270

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