by: Maison Tran
photo by Marlene Wang
UCI joined American Campus Communities (ACC) to mark the official opening of Plaza Verde as the university’s first and newest all-electric student housing community on Oct. 16.
The new residential complex is UCI’s first target Zero-Net Energy operation, meaning energy consumed on site would be equal to the amount of renewable energy produced. Plaza Verde will also be eligible for the LEED Platinum certification after the construction of a 1.4 megawatt solar power system on the two parking structures.
“Plaza Verde was designed with sustainability in mind. In fact, in partnership with Collegiate Housing Foundation and ACC, Plaza Verde is the greenest housing facility in the University of California system,” Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Enrique Lavernia said.
According to ACC Executive Vice President of Public-Private Partnerships James E. Wilhelm, the construction of Plaza Verde offered many commerce opportunities, like labor and the design of interior art, for the local community.
The building materials used were also eco-friendly, such as the wood at Building A, which is either reclaimed, non-tropical or sustainably harvested in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
“What we’ve been able to prove with this project is that sustainable business practices do not have to come at the expense of affordability,” Wilhelm said. “You can have both. They can be compatible objectives in today’s world.”
Plaza Verde spans 568,930 square feet with 1,441 beds, a 523-space parking structure, more than 760-space bike storage, multipurpose room, gym, study spaces and 15,000 square feet community center. Plaza Verde’s rent starts at $789 and ends at $1629.
Provost Lavernia said UCI has a goal of having 60% of students live on campus, and ASUCI President Randy Yan said he has a vision of affordable living for the student body.
“At UCI, we remain committed to improving student wellness,” Yan said. “And I am thrilled to see that the Plaza Verde apartment community has taken that into account as well.”