Cal State San Bernardino’s commitment to sustainability continues to excel as the university’s Center for Global Innovation (CGI) received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Certification – the highest green rating that a new building can achieve in energy efficiency.

Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, the LEED certification is the most widely used green building rating system in the world and provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership.

CGI, which opened in the fall of 2019 and is home to the university’s College of Extended and Global Learning, is the fourth LEED certified building on the CSUSB campus and the first to attain the LEED Platinum status. At 71,000 square feet and a cost of $55 million, the three-story structure is the first building on campus to offer classroom space since the opening of the College of Education building in 2008. 

“CSUSB is committed to the preservation of not only our campus resources, but also the limited resources of our environment,” said Jennifer Sorenson, the university’s associate vice president for Facilities Planning and Management. “From a building standpoint, it shows that we have taken sustainability into account from the time we designed it, built it and then how we operate the building, so it has sustainability at the core.” 

Sorenson said the university can expect at least a 25 percent reduction in utility use because the CGI was constructed using the LEED standards.

The interior of the Center for Global Innovation
Center for Global Innovation

“It’s significant from a sustainability standpoint,” Sorenson said. “It shows we’re trying to use our natural resources effectively so that we can grow the campus, but not increase our carbon footprint. This building will be more energy efficient, reducing our energy use for building operations and obviously we will pay less for energy, water, and waste over the life of building.”

The CGI becomes the seventh LEED Platinum certified building in the 23-campus California State University system. It is also the first LEED Platinum new construction building in the city of San Bernardino, and the third such building in San Bernardino County (the other two are on the Crafton Hills College campus in the city of Yucaipa).

“The fact that we are the only building within San Bernardino shows how it’s very difficult for buildings to meet this level of scrutiny, so that’s why it is pretty exciting. Even CSU systemwide with the 23 campuses, there’s only seven,” Sorenson said.

LEED certification expresses how efficiently a building is designed and operated. In order to rate and rank a project, each structure is given a certain number of points based on its environmental impact. In the areas of water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and sustainability, points are given on a 100-point scale.

To achieve LEED certification status requires a minimum of 40 points; 50 points will put a site at the silver level; between 60 and 79 points earn gold certification; and projects that reach a minimum of 80 points are awarded platinum status, the highest certification that a new building can achieve.

To accomplish LEED Platinum, project considerations were made to the site, the building orientation, natural daylighting, energy efficiency, water efficiency, building materials, and the building systems.

For CGI, climate appropriate landscape and water efficient irrigation systems were utilized to reduce the use of site related water, in addition to measures to minimize storm water runoff and allow storm water to percolate into the natural soil. The use of high-performance insulated glass and efficient mechanical systems were incorporated to reduce energy use. Overall flexibility in the building plan creates a future proof solution that will allow adjustments in the future. 

Along with administrative offices, the Center for Global Innovation has 24 classrooms designed to accommodate collaborative learning, reconfigurable multi-purpose rooms and casual study lounges. With a large patio at the entrance, global gallery and a terrace on the third floor, CGI provides space for gathering and collaborative learning as well as opportunities for indoor and outdoor hosting of special programs.