2 Berkeley buildings selected to receive national awards for sustainability, design

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Two Berkeley buildings were selected to receive national awards as two among 10 buildings recognized for their design and sustainability Friday.

Both the UC Berkeley Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation and the West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library received the 2016 Top Ten award from the American Institute of Architects in tandem with the Committee on the Environment. Criteria for selection included qualities such as design and innovation, energy and water use and integration with the community.

The winning buildings were recognized for their sustainable features including Jacobs Hall’s high-density and low-carbon building model — which reduce energy usage by 90 percent below the national baseline. The West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library was acknowledged as the first zero net energy public library in California.

William Leddy, an architect at Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects the firm that oversaw the design of Jacobs Hall said he believes the firm was selected for the project because of its reputation for innovative educational environments and designing sustainable architecture.

(Our) challenge as architects, presumably, is to re-innovate what traditional architectural beauty is,” Leddy said.

In 2009, Berkeley adopted its Climate Action Plan a program that requires all major remodels or new construction of city buildings to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, silver certification. The West Berkeley Library had already received a LEED platinum certification.

Jacobs Hall which opened in August 2015 is still in the process of evaluation for LEED certification, according to Leddy. He added that the building will most likely be guaranteed LEED certification, though the team is aiming for a platinum certification, the highest level of recognition for sustainable structures.

LEED is a rating system used by the U.S. Green Building Council to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and encourage sustainable design, according to Zoning Adjustments Board vice chair Igor Tregub. He added that each project must meet different requirements to qualify for certification.

Projects earn points for the number of environmentally sustainable actions the building executes during its construction and usage of resources, requiring a minimum of 40 points to be certified. Silver and gold certification require at least 50 and 60 points, respectively. Platinum certification ranges between 80 and 110 points.

The time from a project’s completion to when the project receives a final certification can take as little as six to eight months or as long as a few years, Leddy said.

The current Berkeley Downtown Area Plan includes a provision that all new construction in Downtown will be, at minimum, LEED Gold, according to Tregub.

Berkeley and the campus are making efforts toward sustainability by taking actions such as disclosing energy data of buildings, according to Stefano Schiavon, campus assistant professor of architecture.

He added that architecture plays an important role in environmental sustainability.

40 percent (are) connected to just buildings,” Schiavon said regarding greenhouse gas emissions.

Councilmember Jesse Arreguin has proposed requiring the same LEED standards for all new construction for projects of 75 units or more throughout the city’s commercial zoning districts, including outside of the Downtown core. The proposal will be discussed at the City Council meeting Tuesday.

Contact Jennifer Wong at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jenniferwong_dc.