Certified Green Buildings

UC Santa Cruz is committed to meeting, if not exceeding the UC Sustainable Practices Policy green building requirements. 

Exceptional policy requirements include:

  • All new buildings will achieve a USGBC LEED “Silver” certification at a minimum. All new buildings will strive to achieve certification at a USGBC LEED “Gold” rating or higher, whenever possible within the constraints of program needs and standard budget parameters.
  • All new building projects, shall be designed, constructed, and commissioned to outperform the CBC energy efficiency standards by at least 20% or meet additional whole-building energy performance targets.
  • No new building or major renovation that is approved after June 30, 2019, shall use onsite fossil fuel combustion (e.g., natural gas) for space and water heating (except those projects connected to an existing campus central thermal infrastructure).

LEED Certified Buildings 

UCSC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Baskin School of Engineering Tenant Improvement
2021, Certified, 22,000 gsf, Commercial Interiors (CI), LEED Scorecard


The UC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Campus is a multi-disciplinary teaching and research hub that is home to a master’s degree program in Games and Playable Media, engineering faculty,  SVLink incubator-accelerator program, the new office of Industry Alliances and Technology Commercialization, UCSC Silicon Valley Extension, UC Scout, and soon a great deal more.

Environmental Health & Safety
2021, Silver, 7,025, Building Design & Construction (BD+C), LEED Scorecard


The EH&S building processes and temporarily holds waste generated by teaching, research, and campus maintenance activities. This project consolidated the management of waste into one site. UC Santa Cruz has instructors and researchers in the life sciences, physical sciences, and fine arts who use chemicals in their work and generate waste that needs processing and disposal. In addition, chemicals are used to help maintain the campus. Chemical waste is packaged and labeled by trained researchers and staff, and is collected once a week to bring it to the holding facility. Within 90 days, a licensed contractor transports the chemical waste to an approved and permitted treatment, storage, and disposal facility.


Active Learning Classroom, Science and Engineering Library
2019, Gold, 3,125 gsf, Commercial Interiors (CI)


UCSC’s Active Learning Classroom is one of the school’s most popular learning centers. Located in the Science and Engineering Library, students enjoy actively applying what they learn in lecture and have a great environment to study for their upcoming exams. Engineering professors also enjoy hosting discussion sections in this part of the library. Given its regular use and diverse technology, energy efficiency was a top priority for this project. The project earned high marks for its optimized HVAC system, enhanced lighting system, being accessible through public transportation, and for using low-emission materials.


Coastal Biology Building
2018, Gold, 40,000 gsf, Building Design & Construction (BD+C)


Located on the edge of our coastal campus, the Coastal Biology Building is a student and staff favorite. The building supports research and teaching on coastal conservation, ecology, habitat restoration, climate change impacts, and policy. Along with its many sustainable features, the building minimizes its light pollution so as to not disrupt local ecosystems and communities. 


Hay Barn
2017, Gold, 4,940 gsf, Building Design & Construction (


The Hay Barn represents one of UCSC’s oldest structures, modeled after the original Hay Barn built in the 1860’s as part of the lime works period. The renovated barn features a unique juxtaposition of old and new materials, still retaining some of the timber used in the 1860s. The barn is a great example of historic preservation and resource conservation. The barn has been designed to maintain occupancy comfort sustainably by being built to maintain a comfortable temperature without heating or air conditioning. Its many windows allow for natural light to flow during the day, minimizing the electricity needed for lighting. Its design has won the barn quite a few awards, such as the American Institute of Architects Award, as well as recognition for its energy efficiency by ASHRAE.


Merrill College Residence Halls (A-D) and Merrill Plaza
2017, Silver, 61,435 gsf, Building Design & Construction (BD+C)


Merrill College, being located in the hills on campus, enjoys a more isolated environment with a thriving student community. It's a great representation of how sustainable student housing is possible, setting a precedent for our future growth. The building maintains low energy and water use per resident. 


UCSC Cogen Plant
2015, Gold, 11,282 gsf, Building Design & Construction (BD+C)  


UCSC’s Cogeneration Plant is a hallmark of efficient and reliable energy use and generation. The plant produces both electricity and heat, reducing the amount of energy needed for heating. It features an emphasis on regional materials as well as recycled materials, increasing the sustainability of the plant itself. Additionally, the building was created using low emission wood, paint, and flooring.


UCSC Biomedical Sciences Research Facility
2013, Gold, 97,864 gsf, Building Design & Construction (BD+C)    


UCSC’s Biomedical Sciences Research Facility is a 4-story interdisciplinary research laboratory building with a basement vivarium. The primary purpose of the laboratory building is laboratory space for researchers in molecular and cell biology, development biology, chemistry and biochemistry, environmental toxicology, and biomolecular engineering. The 20,000 square feet of wet laboratory space is complemented by 20,000 square feet of administrative laboratory support space. Sustainable features include chilled beams, low pressure drop ductwork design, natural ventilation with radiant heating, and night setback. 


Porter College Dining Commons
2011, Silver, 22,048 gsf, Commercial Interiors (CI)


The LEED Silver Kresge/Porter Dining Hall is one of UCSC’s most popular eating areas. Whether it be the dining commons or Cafe Brasil, students all around campus frequent the building, which requires a lot of energy and water consumption. The building goes above and beyond what is required for LEED Silver, as it emphasizes a 30% reduction in water use, despite the amount needed to wash dishes and water used for cooking. Its sustainability is also highlighted by its proximity to the Kresge/Porter community-allowing for less people to drive to the hall and more people walking, biking or riding the bus to get to the dining hall.


Cowell Student Health Center
2011, Gold, 23,724 gsf, Building Design & Construction (BD+C)


The Cowell Student Health Center uniquely represents the culture of sustainability that students require of their university. This was proven when the students themselves voted for a new student fee in order to cover the cost of the Cowell Health Center being upgraded from LEED Silver to LEED Gold in 2011. The center provides many essential medical services to students, as well as houses CAPS, UC Santa Cruz’s mental health program. All of the wood used in the Health Center is certified sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). They also used sealants, coatings, paint, carpet, and wood products that are extremely low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are gasses emitted from a wide variety of products, and can cause health problems from minor irritation to fatigue to cancer or organ damage. 


UCSC Cowell College Seismic Renewal
2010, Certified, 44,564 gsf, Core & Interior (CI)


Cowell College is one of UCSC’s oldest colleges, it's most notable for its view of the ocean and athletic fields. Its recent seismic renewal has allowed it a designation of a LEED Certification, emphasizing a 30% reduction in water usage as well as ease of access to public transportation. Being one of UCSC’s most frequented sites, being accessible by public transport allows for a reduction in private cars needed to reach the area, saving carbon emissions in the long run.


Porter College House A
2011, Gold, 85,494 gsf, Building Design & Construction (BD+C)
Porter College House B
2010, Silver, 94,691 gsf, Building Design & Construction (BD+C)


Porter College is one of UCSC’s student housing areas, and is a big part of freshman orientations. Being renovated in 2010, Porter Colleges Houses A and B have been LEED Gold Certified, showing that even in 2010 UCSC was committed to sustainable housing, and doing more for sustainability than what was asked from us. It is best known for how sustainable the site itself is, being made to maximize open space while controlling the quantity and quality of stormwater removal and keeping the area accessible with public transportation. With some of the areas being further than a lot of the hubs on campus, being accessible with public transport is an incentive for students to frequent the area without emitting more carbon than necessary.

Future Projects

Student Housing West: Soon to be UCSC’s first LEED Platinum Certified building, Student Housing West represents UCSC’s commitment to sustainable innovation and infrastructure. 

Kresge College Renewal and Expansion Project