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New dorm’s green credentials questioned

Erica Lynn Lares
Staff Writer

The swanky new dorm scheduled to open in fall 2012 will not be made of newfangled super-sustainable materials.

It will by made of wood. Wood Type V, to be exact. This is a fairly typical material for dorms, experts say.

Some on campus, however, are less than thrilled about the sense that a wood structure might not be the most environmentally friendly.

They are also concerned about the building’s stability if an earthquake were to occur.

“I don’t understand why they are using wood to build the new dorms,” said Sanoli Shai, freshmen movement and sports science major.

“You would think the University would use something more sustainable like steel or something.

“I live in Stu-Han (and) can’t wait for the new dorms to be built, but if they are going to be made out of wood I am a little concerned,” Shai said.

In fact, the new dorm when complete should earn a fairly high sustainability rating, said Chip West, senior director, central services and capital planning.

“Wood type V is a typical construction material for housing and residence buildings,” West said.

“It goes up quicker, it’s inexpensive, efficient, durable, strong and will last for at least 50 to 60 years.

Some steel also will be used in the new dorm construction, West said.

The University prides itself on the super-green Campus Center, which is the most recent new structure on campus, completed in 2009.

The Campus Center is a Silver LEED certified building, meaning it is certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which measures the sustainability of a building.

The various certifications of LEED include platinum, gold and silver.

The new dorm will in fact be up to the same standard for sustainability as the Campus Center.

LEED certification is identified by a point system that takes into account the different categories that make up the structure of a building such as its the building’s water efficiency, energy and atmosphere effects, materials and resources used and the indoor environmental quality.

“There are all types of materials that play a role in LEED certification, and wood type V is one of them,” West said.

“Buildings such as the Campus Center usually change, such as changing offices and rooms, and using steel makes it easier to change,” Chet Cotter, project manager said.

“Usually residential buildings are not often changed this way, which is why Wood Type V is ideal for this type of construction,” Cotter said.

The new dorm will house more than 350 students, a bookstore, a quad area and more businesses.

“I just visited UCI and they just finished building their dorms,” West said.

“We actually are working with the same contractors that did theirs, and they are gorgeous, the students love them.

“The new dorms are going to be a quality facility, a beautiful building and are going to move the institution forward in a great way,” West said.

Erica Lynn Lares can be reached at

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