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In April, the Mission Bay Aquatic Center became the first in the California State University System and second facility in San Diego County to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance. LEED is an internationally recognized green building rating system, overseen by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Platinum certification is the highest level of recognition for green buildings under LEED guidelines.

“We have always hoped that people would see MBAC as more than a place to learn watersports,” says MBAC Assistant Director, Kevin Waldick. “This prestigious certification now helps communicate the message that the MBAC is not just about water safety and fun, but is also about a lifestyle of sustainability and a connection with the water we play in and the world we live.”

Getting certified by the USGBC is not an easy endeavor even for a facility that meets all of the requirements. It takes hundreds of man hours to provide documentation and compile data to earn credits to successfully complete the performance period. This work fell on the MBAC LEED Certification Team, a group of student volunteers from SDSU and UCSD who did the yeoman’s work over a period of 12 months. Many of the students are members of SDSU’s Green Love Committee or the USGBC Student Chapters at SDSU and UCSD.

Michelle Perez, the project’s LEED team manager and UC San Diego sustainability analyst, remarked, “Engaging the emerging generation in this mission is as important as the built environment we strive to improve.  The diverse group of students shared their talents and strengths, bringing fresh perspective and energy to the project at every step.  By engaging students in the MBAC LEED certification effort, both universities continue to green their schools from within.”

MBAC’s certification at the level of Platinum is an extraordinary accomplishment for a 40 year old building. Glen Brandenburg, Associated Students Director of Facilities and Sustainability, who was also the Director of MBAC during its construction in 1975, points out that many of the features that are included in modern green building design were implemented in the original MBAC construction, long before people were thinking about sustainability.

“When we first built the MBAC we included a lot of design elements that were meant to have long-term impact on keeping operating costs down,” says Glen.  “And while our decision at the time was based on economics, the conservation aspects of the design features are being implemented today as having both an economic and ecologic benefit.  It’s a win-win for businesses.”

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