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UC Berkeley Child Care Center Earns High Eco-Rating
BERKELEY, California, April 30, 2008 (ENS) - The Haste Street Child Development Center was celebrated Tuesday as the University of California, Berkeley's first building to be certified at the Silver level under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED, rating system of the U.S. Green Building Council.

The center is also is the state's first freestanding LEED-Silver certified child care center.

The two-story building three blocks from central campus is "green" from its energy and water conservation to the many materials used in construction, formaldehyde-free furniture, fabric carpets that don't give off harmful chemicals, its use of green cleaning products, and recycling bins used daily. Worm bins for composting are due to arrive soon.

The LEED Green Building rating system evaluates new and existing commercial, institutional and high-rise residential buildings according to their environmental attributes and sustainable features.

To earn a silver rating, a building must score 33 to 38 points. The Haste Street Center earned 38 points, one point short of the rare gold rating, said Chris Harvey, director of capital projects for UC Berkeley's Residential and Student Services Program.

The Haste Street Child Care Center (Photo courtesy UC Berkeley)

The $6 million center serves 78 infants, toddlers and preschoolers of UC Berkeley faculty, staff and students, and also provides facilities for education, social welfare and psychology researchers interested in child development.

"This center shows that our campus is serious about being socially responsible and responsive to the community," said Laura Keeley-Saldana, director of early childhood education in UC Berkeley's Residential and Student Service Programs.

At the Haste Street center, 98 percent of the waste materials left over from construction were diverted from landfills and recycled. Twenty percent of the center's building materials came from within 500 miles of the site.

Its system of fluorescent lights, photocells for lighting circuits, radiant heat in concrete floors and on-demand water heater enable the facility to exceed California's mandated energy efficiency standards by 40 percent. No illumination leaves the site.

Paints, sealants and other indoor materials were selected because of their minimal emission of indoor air pollutants, and sensors monitor indoor carbon monoxide levels. Housekeeping supplies are free of toxic chemicals.

Stormwater runoff from the site was reduced by 25 percent compared to runoff from the site's previous use as a parking lot.

Some $60,000 in funding from Stopwaste.Org, an arm of Alameda County's Waste Management Authority and Source Reduction and Recycling Board, enabled UC Berkeley to hire a special consultant on LEED certification to help guide the center's progress from design to initial operation and to have an engineering firm commission the building's operating systems.

While the UC system has incorporated expectations for LEED equivalency into all of its major capital projects, it does not mandate that each project undergo a formal and often expensive certification process that can cost thousands of dollars.

Judy Chess, assistant director for green building programs at UC Berkeley, says the percentage costs of formal LEED certification generally decrease with the increasing size of a project. "It's a function of design, not a function of size," she said.

UC Berkeley Capital Project Manager Sally McGarrahan oversaw the center's planning and construction. The architect was Jacobson Silverstein Winslow/Degenhardt, and Vila Construction of Richmond was the contractor.

McGarrahan said that only if LEED certification is a priority from the beginning of the process and guides design decisions throughout will it be possible to achieve certification.

"If you start thinking about it after some fundamental site and system questions are already determined, it will be almost impossible to achieve enough credits," she said.

Keeley-Saldana says the families that use the Haste Street Center as well as the surrounding community have been excited about the movement in this environmentally sensitive direction.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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