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TJSL Awarded LEED Gold Certification for its Green Building

January 22, 2013


Thomas Jefferson School of Law Dean and President Rudy Hasl has announced that the law school’s new downtown campus has achieved Gold Certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Program.

“Going for the Gold” has been Dean Hasl’s goal from the moment the new building was conceived.

“From the beginning of the construction process, the School sought to achieve LEED Gold status as a statement of its commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility,” said Dean Hasl.  “Our achievement of this status stands as a symbol of our commitment to responsible energy management and our leadership within the legal education community. We have demonstrated with our investment in this project that we have backed up our rhetoric with tangible commitments.”

The new law school was designed and built to be as energy efficient as possible, to reduce the school’s environmental footprint and to generate solar electricity for the San Diego Gas & Electric grid.

There is a 49 kilowatt photovoltaic energy system on the main roof, owned and operated by SDG&E, that generates clean electricity to be fed directly back into the grid – enough clean energy at peak production to power up to 32 homes.  This renewable system alone was worth one full point toward the 39 points needed to qualify for Gold Level LEED certification.

In recognition of these “green” efforts, SDG&E presented the law school with an incentive check for $111,199 in March 2011 for its participation in the company’s “Sustainable Communities Champions Award” and “Savings by Design” programs.

The building’s mechanical equipment requires less energy to operate because of the building’s lower heating and cooling demands.  A “Cool Roof” membrane on the main roof reflects heat from the sun and reduces cooling loads on the building.  The school’s new server and network infrastructures also are saving on energy.

Another eco-friendly innovation is the use of Hycrete, a concrete admixture that turns regular concrete into a waterproof barrier. Hycrete was used for the foundation and flooring and the result is a highly desirable green environmental impact and great cost savings.

The building design also conserves water – requiring an estimated 20 percent less water than average, while the water-efficient landscape design will require about 50 percent less water.

The landscaping is part of Dean Hasl’s vision to create “an urban oasis” on the building’s outdoor terraces with specially selected drought-resistant plants.  The highlight of the oasis is the living wall on the fifth floor terrace – an 85 foot green wall of succulent plants that hides the view of the mechanical equipment on the roof of the building next door. The wall also creates a place of green solitude for students to study amid the concrete city surrounding the law school.

Other green features of the new campus include the availability of public transportation, with the trolley right on the school’s doorstep and the use of low-emitting construction materials for the interior and innovation in the design process.

The law school, which opened in January 2011, is 8 stories high, totals 380,000 square feet and features three levels of underground parking.

The process of the final LEED Gold Certification shows that the TJSL campus is a sustainable and enduring environmentally-friendly landmark in San Diego’s East Village – as well as a shining example of what a green law school can be.

Rudy Hasl’s reputation of being San Diego’s “Green Dean” is well-deserved.