UC Merced gets gold for its green

UC Merced announced this week that it's Science and Engineering Building earned a "gold" rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The university was recognized for the building's environmentally responsible design, construction and operation.

The building is the fourth in three years at the campus to earn the second highest certification in the council's LEED - leadership in energy and environmental design - program.

The 211,000 square-foot laboratory and classroom building was completed in 2006. Features inside the building include water and energy conservation, natural lighting, air quality, waste diversion and recycling.

On the five-tier LEED scale, gold is the second-highest level. The University of California system has a goal to achieve a silver rating for all new construction; the State of California has a bronze standard for all new public buildings.

All buildings on the four-year-old campus meet or exceed the UC system standards, campus officials said. The other buildings with gold ratings are the central power plant, Kolligian Library, and the main classroom and office building.

No other university in the country has earned LEED silver or better for every building on campus, the officials said.

The U.S. Green Building Council is an independent, nonprofit organization that rates buildings on 69 measures of sustainability.