Mrak Hall Goes Green and LEED Gold

Photo" Mrak Hall, amid sea of trees
Mrak Hall, the campus's main administration building, has been granted LEED Gold certification.

Quick Summary

  • LEED certification recognizes retrofits to 50-year-old building
  • Campus units work collaboratively on sustainability efforts
  • We’ve now got 19 LEED-certified new and existing buildings

The U.S. Green Building Council has granted LEED Gold status to Mrak Hall for energy- and water-saving retrofits and other improvements to the 50-year-old structure. It’s the 19th UC Davis building or cluster of buildings to be certified under the council’s program for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Fine Tuning Our Energy Use

“Certifying a building doesn’t mean there is nothing left to do,” said Joshua Morejohn, the campus’s energy manager. “It gives us a benchmark and helps us identify areas where we can do further tuning — especially in energy use and occupant comfort.”

Facilities Management has developed two tools to help this process:

 TherMOOstat's cow
TherMOOstat's mascot: Joules
  • TherMOOstat With this online app, you can tell Facilities Management how comfortable you are, temperature-wise, in your office, classroom, lab or other space on campus. (You can also access the app via the Web.) Read more about TherMOOstat.
  • Campus Energy Education DashboardA website with past energy-use data, current energy demand for inividual buildings and the overall campus, as well as output at the new solar power plant.

“This certification of our main administration building sends a great message about our campus’s commitment to sustainability,” said Camille Kirk, interim assistant vice chancellor for the Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability.

Mrak’s LEED Gold, in the category of Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance, recognizes the work the campus did to boost energy efficiency, cut water use and improve indoor environmental quality, and to furnish Mrak with laptop computers and printers and the like that meet or exceed LEED standards.

Joshua Morejohn, the campus’s energy manager, said: “Existing buildings are often overlooked” when institutions look for energy savings and other improvements in sustainability. “Our goal is to implement sustainable practices to not only help the environment but also save money that can be invested elsewhere.”

Allen Doyle, sustainability manager in Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability, said: “Green operations should be business as usual.” He developed and initially managed the campus’s green-building certification and today works closely with Morejohn and Amy Burns, green building coordinator in the Energy Conservation Office, as they run the program.

Morejohn and Burns lead a team of staff, student interns and volunteers who analyze building operations and consider ways to meet LEED’s rigorous standards.

While many universities employ outside consultants for certifications, UC Davis’ own integrative team exemplifies the campus’s commitment to sustainability in business operations and to providing learning opportunities for students. “We employ students and allow them to be leaders in the group, preparing them to enter the work force, where LEED is the industry standard,” Burns said.

The campus’s green certification program (for existing buildings and new construction) also relies on a number of other units:

  • Student Housing
  • Design and Construction Management
  • Building Maintenance Services
  • Custodial Services
  • Grounds and Landscape Services

With Mrak Hall’s LEED Gold, UC Davis now has seven certifications for existing buildings. The others are: Gold — Giedt Hall and Mathematical Sciences Building. Silver — Sciences Laboratory Building, and Emerson and Webster halls (residence halls). Certified Hutichison Hall.

All of UC Davis’ LEED certifications are listed and described here.

Gold for Mrak

  • Water use — Data used in the LEED certification process showed Mrak Hall used 27 percent less water than comparable buildings, reflecting efficiency in Mrak’s plumbing fixtures and fittings. Building Maintenance Services accomplished this in restrooms by replacing older fixtures or making low-cost modifications. For example, a simple valve adjustment in each urinal (at a cost of only $7 per fixture) saves approximately two gallons of water per flush.
  • Energy efficiency — Mrak scored 15 out of 18 points in LEED’s energy performance calculation. Under the federal government’s Energy Star program, Mrak scored 90 out of 100 for energy efficiency (75 or higher indicates top performance among similar buildings).
  • Materials and resources — Guided by campus policy, Mrak Hall’s occupants have done a very good job when purchasing electronic durable goods (those with long and useful lifespans, such as laptops and printers), as evidenced by data showing that 90 percent of such purchases met or exceeded LEED sustainability standards. Further, Mrak earned a bonus point for using lamps with reduced mercury content.
  • Indoor environmental quality — Custodial Services contributed to Mrak Hall’s certification by adopting LEED’s High-Performance Green Cleaning Program, which reduces harmful airborne contaminants. The Mrak custodial staff earned a 2.66 score (out of 3) when audited for compliance.

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