As a new campus, UC Merced has been a blank slate, and the campus and UC system have endeavored to introduce new technologies and environmentally sound design and construction. This 324,000 square-foot mixed use project is proposed in response to a Zero Net Energy Challenge, by Pacific Gas & Electric in partnership with UC Merced.

The goal of the project is to develop a sustainable building that is energy efficient building and produces more energy than it uses. Based on an open program, a mixed use building was conceived that provides on-site underground parking, retail/food service space, administration/office space, and a renewable energy research laboratory on the upper floor and roof. The building would not only serve as an incubator for renewable energy, especially photo and bio reactive, it would be environmentally sustainable and financially viable.

The project is envisioned as a four story above ground structure, where the upper two floors cantilever over the lower two partial floors providing protection for indoor and outdoor spaces from the sun and weather. The upper two floors utilize a dual wall system to provide passive ventilation between in the inner and outer skins of the building, that ties to the buildings air and heat exchange system. The outer skin of the building is a perforated metal panel system that allows for vision out of the building, while minimizing heat gain.

The roof top provides a full 100,000 square feet of space for solar based renewable energy systems. These systems will, displace approximately 6.9 million kWh and 1,380,000 therms annually. Electricity from this system will be used for peak power throughout the campus and the hot water produced will augment the district steam (directly) and chilled water loops (via absorption chilling). The combined installation will reduce greenhouse emissions by 19,200 metric tons each year, equivalent to removing 2.1 million gallons of gasoline and saving 480,000 trees annually.

Building density has been prioritized to maximize the use of open/green space. Though there is significant land available on this central valley campus, underground parking is provided to reduce the footprint of the overall project. The parking and retail components provide financial support to the project and the campus. The integration of commercial, academic and research interests in one building provides a contemporary solution to the multifaceted challenges that face us.

PROGRAM GSF: Retail: 48K, Admin: 176K, Lab: 100K

By utilizing the features and opportunities present at the site along with the possibilities available today in building technology, achieving a zero net symbiotic resource network of buildings is viable in all but the harshest of environments. Where possible, government, business and institutions must take the lead in this endeavor, creating new infrastructure that will drive the future towards sustainable environmental, social and economic growth.