UC Merced Connect: Building gets green certification

September 2, 2013 

The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded platinum LEED certification to UC Merced's Social Sciences and Management Building.

Every building project on campus has already or is expected to attain LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, meaning it meets or exceeds standards for sustainability.

UC Merced is being built green from the ground up, with a commitment to sustainability in all forms — from landscaping and water to recycling and energy efficiency.

The campus, with its Triple Net Zero Commitment, has pledged to consume zero net energy, produce zero landfill waste and produce zero net greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainability is a watchword in all the campus does.

"It has been an excellent collaborative effort of the entire design and construction team in partnership with facilities management to achieve this recognition," said campus architect Tom Lollini. "This is our second platinum certification, and lines up subsequent projects to achieve similar results through the USGBC Multi-Building Pilot program, in which UC Merced has served as a national leader."

The campus LEED scorecard so far is one silver certification, eight gold certifications and two platinum certifications, with five platinum certifications pending.

The campus completed the Student Activities and Athletics Center last fall, and has several new buildings opening over the next two to three years: the Student Services Building; Science and Engineering Building 2; and the Classroom and Office Building 2. All of which are expected to achieve LEED platinum status.

Connection still strong for bioengineering grad

It has been four years since Mike Oliveira earned his bachelor's degree in bioengineering at UC Merced, but the campus still feels like home to him.

Now pursuing a doctorate at University of California at Riverside, Oliveira watched last year as his younger brother received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at his alma mater.

Despite the 300 miles between the campuses, Oliveira stays connected to the Bobcat grapevine via an inside source. "My dad, Louie Oliveira, keeps me plenty informed on campus happenings," he said.

The elder Oliveira is a superintendent for UC Merced's facilities management department.

About a third of UC Merced undergraduates come from Merced and neighboring Central Valley counties. Having family in the area means that Mike Oliveira's ties to the area will remain strong.

During his undergrad days, his local connections helped him play a leading role in building up the campus culture, Oliveira said.

With friend Ben Goodhue, he founded the UC Merced Club Baseball Team — one of the first campus sports teams to bring home a win for the university. He also helped establish a campus chapter for the Biomedical Engineering Society.

He also stays connected as a board member of the university's alumni association. UC Merced's emphasis on mentoring gave Oliveira a boost that motivates him to give back.

At UC Riverside, Oliveira remains a pioneer. He's helping found a chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science.

Oliveira's doctorate work involves using laser light to image biological tissue. Called optical coherence tomography, or OCT, the method can assemble pictures of the brain and other tissue with greater resolution than ever before.

Projections suggest that medical engineering fields will continue to grow over the next several decades — creating new job and research opportunities around the globe.

With its focus on emerging technologies, UC Merced will continue to need professors with advanced degrees in fields like bioengineering and nanotechnology.

As he looks to the future, Oliveira sees himself staying involved with UC Merced, perhaps even more intimately.

"Who knows?" he said. "Maybe someday I'll get the opportunity to shape the campus even more as a faculty member."

UC Merced Connect is a collection of news items written by the University Communications staff. To contact them, email communications@ucmerced.edu.

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