My Master’s Thesis

At my school, everyone works on their master’s thesis project as a group. What’s cool about them, too, is that each project is proposed by a member of the public in search of answers to a current environmental issue. I was assigned/I chose a project proposed by the City of Santa Barbara’s Planning Commission. Over the next year, myself and three others, will study the effects of housing on transportation patterns. Our environmental interest in transportation comes from the fact that it is one of the largest sources of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. We are trying to find out if creating housing closer to jobs is a successful way to reduce peoples’ driving, and therefore reduce their emissions. To kick-off the project, I created my team’s project website. If you want to learn more about some housing issues in Santa Barbara and how our project works, check it out here .

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LEED: Week 2

This past week we’ve been learning the basics of LEED certification.  Our building, the Student Resources Building, is participating in Version 4 of Operations and Management: Existing Buildings.  We started by familiarizing ourselves with the LEED credits.  These credits are the criteria by which a building earns points for certification.  Credits fall into the following categories:

  • Location and Transportation
  • Sustainable Sites
  • Water Efficiency
  • Energy and Atmosphere
  • Materials and Resources
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Innovation
  • Regional Priority

The majority of the points possible go towards the Energy and Atmosphere credit category (38 out of 110). But it’s also interesting to note that LEED gives points for geographically specific credits.  The Regional Priority category is made up of four credits specific to the zip-code the building is located in.  Here in the 93101 zip-code, these credits are:

  • Optimize Energy Efficiency Performance
  • On-Site and Off-Site Renewable Energy
  • Daylight and Views
  • Solid Waste Management- Ongoing Consumables
  • Alternative Commuting Transportation
  • Additional Indoor Plumbing Fixtures and Fitting Efficiency

We can choose to achieve up to four of these credits.

Next week we are meeting with the building’s stakeholders to learn more about their specific goals and ways we can work together to achieve LEED Gold for the SRB.

For more information about LEED and the certification process head to USGBC.org

LEED Class- Day 1

Part of the purpose of this blog is to document my life as a graduate student at UCSB.  One course that I will be taking this year is a LEED lab.  Over the next 10 months, I will be learning all about the LEED certification process and be participating in the certification of our Student Resources Building (SRB) on campus.

So what is LEED? LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.  It’s a certification process conducted by the U.S. Green Building Council.  Basically, its a certificate and plan for your building that says you are energy efficient and environmentally aware.  Its completely optional and it has different levels of participation.  Certain aspects of your building are worth a specific amount of points.  These points add up to form your score, which determines your certification level.  The levels are “Certified”, “Silver”, “Gold”, and “Platinum”.

So in this class, I will learn about the certification process; enough so that at the end of the year I will be prepared to take the Green Building Council’s exam and become a LEED Green Associate.  The other goal for this year concerns the SRB.  It will be the model for all of our learning.  Our goal is to take it from a “Silver” level building to “Gold” in June.

I am very excited for this class!  I think it will be a great opportunity to learn about green building and get some hands-on experience.