Lower Sproul Will Soon be Back and Greener than Ever!

May 5, 2015

The new Lower Sproul Plaza is on track to become one of the most sustainable areas of the UC Berkeley campus. From green building design to innovative stormwater management practices, the Lower Sproul redevelopment project is striving to minimize its environmental impact across a variety of spectra.The project is scheduled to be complete in Fall 2015

The buildings in lower Sproul have been designed with innovative sustainability features. Martin Luther King Jr Student Union is on track for LEED™ Silver certification, and Eshleman Hall is on track for LEED™ Gold certification - going above and beyond the campus-wide requirement that major construction projects achieve LEED Silver certification at a minimum.  High performance building exteriors are one of the attributes that have made this possible. These sustainable exteriors are designed to reduce energy use, reduce artificial lighting demand, and provide passive ventilation . 

Solar panels will be installed on MLK Student Union and Eshleman Hall. The solar panels on MLK Student Union are estimated to produce 153,901 KWH per year, and the panels on Eshleman Hall are estimated to produce 16,103KWH per year. This was made possible through the campus’ participation in the Regional Renewable Energy Procurement Initiative (R-REP). 

Beyond the buildings, the outdoor areas of lower Sproul are also very sustainable. All of the pavers used in the lower Sproul project are permeable so that stormwater is filtered and released gradually back to the watershed. At the northwest edge of the plaze, a rain garden has been created to capture storm water and filter its release into the creek, resulting in reduced pollution entering the watershed as well as reduced flooding. The lower Sproul project is also looking for creative ways to reuse storm water, with plans to create a cistern to store captured rainwater for use in toilet flushing. Eshelman Hall is plumbed to capture greywater in the future, and the landscape has been designed with plumbing to accept it.

Other sustainability features in the new Lower Sproul include: 

  • A bicycle repair station in the plaza
  • 108 added bicycle racks
  • Improved pedestrian and transit access on Bancroft
  • Low emitting materials
  • Low flush toilets flushed with the possibility for gray water or captured rainwater
  • White roofs (to reduce the heat island effect)
  • Cesar Chavez Student Center has increased energy efficiency with HVAC and reduced solar gain on South Side
  • Smart Systems and enhanced commissioning (HVAC, windows, lighting controls)
  • Recycling and compost centers
  • Green housekeeping program
  • Vendors have LEED requirements in their contracts
Waste reduction efforts throughout the construction process have been highly sucessful. Of the 8,810,067 lbs of waste generated in the entire construction process, 8,269,201 lbs,  resulting in 94% of waste diverted. This has been achieved through measures such as reusing materials whenever possible and contracting with a waste disposal company that recycles waste from the site. 
The Lower Sproul redevelopment project has been a truly cross-disciplinary effort. Many different campus offices and organizations have provided input and help throughout the process, including the Associated Students of the Univerisity of California (ASUC), the Graduate Assembly, the Multicultural Center (MCC), ASUC Auxiliary, the LEAD Center, the Public Service Center, the Student Learning Center, the Open Computing Facility, the ASUC Art Studio, the Recruitment and Retention Centers, and the Office of Sustainability and Energy.
"This project is innovative in its design approach with a high level of student involvement.  While many involved will not be here to enjoy the fruits of their labor, they have created   a legacy to benefit future students," said Senior Project Manager Teri Mathers.