UC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Baskin School of Engineering Improvements

Santa Clara, California

Located at the heart of one of the most innovative markets in the country, the UC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Campus is a multidisciplinary teaching and research hub shared by both design students and industry professionals. The 90,000-square-foot facility offers a cutting-edge campus ambiance that blends the university with the tech community’s high-energy, fast-paced culture. In 2019, the University decided to renovate the existing facility with a 22,000sf Tenant Improvement project which included Games and Playable Media, Human Computer Interaction, Serious Games, National Language Processing programs to expand the academics offered at the UCSC Silicon Valley Campus.

LPA’s integrated team worked closely with the client and end-users to integrate the new academic programs within the existing campus building. One of the design challenges was to blend the new program within the existing building, showing design continuity between the original building design, and representing UCSC on this remote campus, and promoting the new unique academic programs.

The collaborative process with the client and end-users placed an emphasis on flexibility, branding and technology, and recognizing that the campus offers post-secondary degrees in technology and digital gaming. The additional program elements consist primarily of bullpen spaces and team rooms, centered around collaboration, flexibility, and technology.

Prior to construction and design, the integrated design team evaluated how to take a sustainable design approach on this project. Some of the finishes, light fixtures, and other elements were reused and recycled in the new space to reduce waste, and to reuse products that were still in great condition. The design also promoted the relationship between technology and nature. The design tied back to the roots of UCSC with the new 3rd floor suite entry as a ‘fallen redwood tree’. This connects to the existing graphics in the 1st floor lobby, and connects to the UCSC main campus, which is nestled in the heart of a redwood forest. The ‘fallen redwood’ is integrated with technology that will showcase the new academics being offered.


Additional Project Team Goals

Goal – Health & Wellness


The building is in a dense and diverse area promoting LEED concepts for Location & Transportation such as; walking, transportation efficiency, and reducing vehicle distance traveled. Bike parking and shower is provided for building occupants to promote health and wellness. Building materials used in the project such as coating, paint, ceiling systems, flooring & carpet and wood products contains reduced or no volatile organic compounds and achieved a set of Indoor Environment Quality categories for LEED as well as Materials and Resources credits for EPD’s, Sourcing of Raw Materials and Materials Ingredients. All existing exterior windows are preserved to provide daylighting, views, and a healthier indoor environment to building occupants. Individual thermal and lighting control is provided through task lighting and personal fans.

Goal – Water & Energy


LEED Goals also influenced efforts in Water Efficiency design. The water use for the building was reduced by 32% through the addition of low-flow fixtures like metered faucets. For LEED Innovations All the existing light bulbs were replaced with more efficient light emitting diodes (LED) lamps. The new occupancy sensors for new lighting system were implemented to reduce building energy use.


Project LEED Information

Location and Transportation

The Baskin School of Engineering professional masters academic space renovation located on the Silicon Valley Campus received the full six LEED points for the credit Surrounding Density and Diverse Uses. This credit is achieved by being located in a dense and diverse location. Building in urban environments conserves wildlife habitat, farmland, and carbon sequestering natural environments. It also promotes walkability, transportation efficiency, and reduces vehicle distance traveled. All within a half a mile from the building’s entrance, users can walk to grocery stores, retail shops, restaurants, and more.

Bike parking is available in front and at the side of the building for students, staff and faculty working at the building.

Water Efficiency


UCSC is critically aware of the current and predicted future water constraints throughout the region and California. As such, it was important to maximize water savings.

The building was able to reduce their water use by 32% through the adoption of low-flow fixtures like metered faucets. Metered faucets automatically shut off water flow after a preset timing cycle, eliminating the possibility of faucets left on. They also allow a level of sanitary protection that standard faucets cannot.

Energy & Atmosphere


During the renovation, BSOE professional masters space completed a complete building lighting retrofit. Replacing old light bulbs with newer light emitting diodes (LED). LEDs consume a fraction of the energy their predecessors used while lasting years longer. Not only did this upgrade immediately start saving the building 6.5% in electrical savings there are also great financial, greenhouse gas, and time saving benefits from decreasing the amount of time Maintenance has to expend changing out light bulbs. Additionally, occupancy sensors and lighting timers throughout the building turn lights off automatically.

Materials & Resources


Silicon Valley received LEED green building certification in a category called “CI” - Commercial Interior. This is because the greenest building is the one that’s already built. Instead of emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases on demolition and rebuilding, it is much more sustainable to retrofit an existing building.

Many of the materials used in the renovation are either recycled or reused. Over 60% of the project's materials fall into the category of responsible sourcing of raw materials by being reused, recyclable, and or having recycled content. These attributes can have a great impact on the project's carbon footprint. During construction, over 73% of the waste materials comprising four different waste streams were recycled or diverted from Landfill. Earning the project LEED points in the Construction & Demolition Waste Management credit.

Indoor Environmental Quality


BSOE professional masters space uses materials that meet code or are better than code in the flooring, Insulation, adhesives & sealants, paints & coatings, and composite wood categories that have low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are gasses emitted from a wide variety of products, and can cause various health problems.

Daylighting of interior spaces is also important for occupancy comfort and energy savings. Silicon Valley is encased with windows providing daylight, views, and a healthier indoor environment to occupants, as daylighting has been shown to improve productivity, happiness and foster a sense of well-being. Walk-off mats are particularly important in reducing dirt and dust in the building. Dirt and dust contains particulate matter, which at certain sizes can bypass the nose and mouth and cause lung ailments. The walk-off mats capture dirt and dust.

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