Cal State San Bernardino’s Santos Manuel Student Union North was awarded the green rating Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for its energy efficiency design and consideration of the university’s natural resources.

“The certification is recognition that we are being good stewards of our campus resources and of our natural resources,” said Jennifer Sorenson, the university’s senior associate vice president for Facilities Planning and Management. “This is a point of pride for our design and construction team as well as for our campus.”

Sam Sudhakar, vice president for Information Technology Service and chief administrator for the Division of Administration and Finance, said “The LEED certification is indicative of our commitment to energy efficiency, the preservation of our campus resources and the limited resources of our environment, and helps to ensure that we manage our resources well during construction and throughout the life of the building.”

To accomplish the LEED Gold certification for the Santos Manuel Student Union North, project considerations were made to the site, the building orientation, natural daylighting, energy efficiency, water efficiency, building materials, and the building systems, said Sorenson, who added that the use of high-performance insulated glass and efficient mechanical systems were incorporated to reduce energy use along with climate appropriate landscape and water efficient irrigation systems 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 Student Union North getting gold is a big accomplishment because of some of the functions that are in the building. In general, dining facilities like The Habit and the Pub typically use a lot of energy for food service but also for creating space for customers. Conference centers with large volume rooms are also challenging from an energy perspective,” said Sorenson. “Our teams were able to create a beautiful building that meets the needs of our campus community using a fraction of the energy required for more traditional student unions.”

The SMSU North becomes the fifth LEED certified building on the CSUSB campus. The LEED rating system 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.

Sorenson said the building received points specific to waste management planning through construction and demolition, in addition for providing product disclosures and optimization of raw materials used. The building is equipped with equipment (compactors) to manage recyclable materials and food waste in addition to landfill waste. The building is also equipped for the addition of a solar array and oriented for optimal day lighting. 

“I don’t believe there is one specific thing but rather a design that considered our natural resources at every opportunity,” Sorenson said. 

She added that energy savings is only one component of LEED certification, but she had seen estimates that “LEED buildings use 18-39% less energy per floor area than conventional buildings. Time will tell, part of certification is that we continue to monitor energy use over the life of the building.”

The Santos Manuel Student Union North is a three-story, 120,000 square-foot, $90 million building consisting of a multi-purpose ballroom, an eight-lane bowling alley and game room, a pub, food service and retail space, collaborative spaces for student organizations and support centers, and the Coyote Bookstore. The SMSU North is an expansion of the three-building Santos Manuel Student Union, which is one of the largest building complexes in the 23-campus California State University system named for an indigenous leader, Santos Manuel (Paakuma’ Tawinat), Kiika’ of the Serrano Indians.