Managing Waste and Protecting the Environment

Our designers helped to create the new UC Santa Cruz facility that handles waste while caring for the campus environment.

A critical new facility for the campus, the Environmental Health and Safety Facility at the University of California, Santa Cruz, opened earlier this year with laboratories, waste handling facilities, temporary storage, and support space. The new 7,800-square foot building is designed in collaboration with The Miller Hull Partnership and will allow the site to better support the needs of the campus’ waste stream generated by the increased use of regulated materials as research programs grow.

A New Location for a New Facility

The original UCSC facility was built in 1982 at the base of campus. While it was built to code at the time, it would not meet today’s new construction code requirements. What’s more, it was quickly running out of storage space as the campus departments grew and added more research programs.

After a careful process, the bigger facility was located on a new site, a location carefully chosen to best preserve the campus’ groves of mature redwood trees as well as being accessible to key buildings. The site includes some unique natural features like a small knoll and a steep ravine. To allow large vehicles access, the design raises the building on caissons along the ravine, which creates the elevation needed for heavy equipment access below the building.

Reaching LEED Silver

PAE contributed mechanical, electrical, plumbing, technology and commissioning (LEED Fundamental) services to the design and was involved in establishing the project’s sustainability goals from the start. The building meets LEED Silver, outperforms the CEC Energy Code 2013 by 20% and meets the Labs21 Environmental Performance Criteria.

Unique features that helped reach these goals are low domestic hot water energy use, very low cooling energy use through a passive cooling strategy that keeps the space comfortable, and a comparatively low fan energy use: when conditions are optimal, the building operates in “passive make-up” mode where only the exhaust fans are in use. The building is served by a roof-mounted, variable air volume, 100 percent outside air (OA) make-up air unit (w/heating). Mechanical cooling was determined to not be a project requirement as the space is not heavily occupied.

An environmentally friendly waste cycle

The facility is meant to handle the waste stream for the 2,000-acre campus resulting from the instruction and research activities which require the use of regulated materials. The campus is responsible for ensuring those materials are safely and properly handled throughout their lifespan until disposed or recycled. They support activities like chemical, laboratory, and radiation safety, hazardous waste management, environmental protection, biological safety, property environmental due diligence, and sanitation.
The waste management cycle on campus begins with the collection of waste materials from areas like laboratory research and training, the arts, and maintenance. University personnel pick up the samples from campus and transport them to the central storage facility. The material is then sorted and held in the specially designed and highly regulated environment until a licensed vendor transports them for proper disposal.

Because of the special considerations of hazardous material at the site, the design team went through many additional studies to ensure ultimate care. For example, a wind study was performed to evaluate the possibility of hazardous pollutants being present near walking areas or adjacent buildings, and the exhaust plumes were heightened to account for the results. They also included emergency protection (spill containment) and alarm notification systems.

The result is a facility that is prepared to handle, process, and safely care for the materials from Santa Cruz’s research and teaching programs. From celebrating the native redwood trees to securely disposing of waste the team ensured that safety and environmental care is central to the cutting-edge facility.

PAE Team

Christian Agulles, PIC
Stephen Scaife, Project Manager
AJ Hefner, Lead Electrical Engineer
Taylor Berrian, Lead Mechanical Engineer
Erica Kram, Lead Plumbing Engineer
Lea Beauvais, Lead ReGen Engineer
Moana Reynau, Commissioning Engineer

Project Team

Architect: The Miller Hull Partnership
Structural: Degenkolb Engineers
Civil: Kennedy/Jenks Consultants
Landscape Architect: Walker | Macy
Lab Planner: RFD
Cost Estimating: Directional Logic
Geotechnical Engineer: Pacific Crest Engineering