VPAC becomes CSUN’s first certified eco-friendly building


Andres Aguila / Daily Sundial

Features such as a reflective roof and tinted windows helped achieve a gold LEED certification. Photo Credit: Andres Aguila / Daily Sundial

Caitlin Martin

Features such as a reflective roof and tinted windows helped achieve a gold LEED certification. Photo Credit: Andres Aguila / Daily Sundial

The Valley Performance Arts Center earned the second tier of green building certification, making it CSUN’s first certified eco-friendly building – and the perks don’t stop at saving the environment.

By obtaining a LEED (Leadership and Energy in Environmental Design) certification the VPAC can take advantage of tax deductions through the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

The maximum tax break a building can receive is $1.80 per square foot and the reduction is determined by how many points they receive. The VPAC stands on 166,000 square feet and cost $125 million to build.

LEED is a green-building certification system set up in 2000 by the U.S. Green Building Council with the goal of promoting sustainable building practices. California requires that all newly built or renovated state owned facilities be at least silver LEED certified.

Erica Wohldmann, a CSUN professor who teaches a course in sustainability practices, said many factors come into play when designing a green building.

“Green buildings should be energy efficient and reliant on renewable energy,” Wohldmann said. “(They should be) water efficient, made from environmentally friendly building materials, and devoted to waste and toxics reduction.”

The LEED rating system consists of silver, gold and platinum certification and is point-based.

The total number of points possible is 69, with 26 needed to be certified and 39 needed to obtain a gold certification. The VPAC earned 39 points.

“(Our) goal was the silver certification,” said Pamela Bock, the director of marking at the VPAC.  “We exceeded it with the gold certification.”

The VPAC installed a displacement ventilation system – or an air conditioning system that relies more on convection as opposed to standard forced air, reflective roof surfaces that reflect the heat of sun rays and help to reduce the need for air conditioning, energy-saving lights, tinted windows and drought-tolerant plants.

The site lacked optimizing energy performance and renewable energy, achieving six points out of the possible 17 for that section.

Nathaniel Wilson, the CSUN campus architect, said that being sustainable and eco-friendly is still an evolving concept.

“This is a very busy time for CSUN Facilities Planning Design and Construction,” Wilson said.

The CSU website states a commitment to sustainability and includes a list of the other CSU campuses LEED certifications.

The new Student Recreational Center is applying for gold LEED certification, said Sarah Johnson, CSUN Institute for Sustainability administrative analyst. If it passes it will be CSUN’s second certification.