Egghead outside of the library.

Photo credit: Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis

Civil and Environmental Engineering Students Help Shields Library Receive LEED Gold Certification

Quick Summary

  • Civil and environmental engineering students Alexandra Rivas, Ryan Callahan, Jake Morisato and Monet Kunz were interns on the Green Buildings team that helped the Shields Library receive LEED Gold certification.

Civil and environmental engineering (CEE) students Alexandra Rivas, Ryan Callahan, Jake Morisato and Monet Kunz were interns on the Green Buildings team that helped the Peter J. Shields Library receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. LEED is a green building certification program used worldwide.

Recent improvements to the building’s heating, cooling and ventilation system operations, upgrades to indoor lighting systems and sustainable purchasing practices allowed the library to earn LEED certification. The students helped by analyzing floorplans, collecting purchasing data for supplies, assessing performance with Green Cleaning criteria for custodial practices and comparing the energy performance of Shields Library to other similar buildings.

“I have really enjoyed working with the team. Each task is new and engaging and I feel that I am constantly learning. Due to the intricacies of LEED certification, I have learned about consumable resources, proper airflow/filtration, building level energy metering, green cleaning equipment and much more,” said Monet Kunz, a fifth year CEE student. “Shields Library is one of the largest buildings to be LEED certified at Davis so it took lots of detailed work to complete, I am grateful for my team's collaboration to make it happen!”

Photos of Monet Kunz and Alexandra Rivas.
Monet Kunz (left) and Alexandra Rivas. Photo courtesy of Kunz and Rivas.

Building operation and maintenance has a large demand for energy. LEED certification focuses on optimizing efficiency in all major systems to reduce long term costs and energy usage.

“As a new intern in fall 2020, doing remote training and catching up on the progress of the Shields Library project was challenging at first, however, I quickly learned that my team was very accessible,” said Alexandra Rivas, a fifth year CEE double major with two minors in sustainability in the built environment and construction engineering and management. “Our team’s successful transition to remote work and involving the new interns during the final stages demonstrated our high team morale. This led us to our greatest achievement in campus sustainability which was the LEED Gold Certification for the Shields Library.”

LEED’s purpose is to mitigate global climate change, enhance individual health and well-being, protect and restore water resources, protect, enhance, and restore biodiversity and ecosystem services and promote sustainable and regenerative material resources cycles.

“We accomplished this by assessing the building’s impact areas covered by LEED which are the energy and atmosphere, indoor environmental quality, water efficiency, sustainable sites and materials and resources. Achieving these goals help build a greener economy and enhance social equity, environmental justice, community health and quality of life,” said Rivas.

Now that the library is certified, the team is starting the LEED certification process for the Earth and Planetary Sciences building at UC Davis and doing some preliminary work on the UC Davis Health Education building.

“I’m excited to be involved in this new project from its initial phases and I look forward to working with the Green Buildings Team in person during my final year at UC Davis,” said Rivas.

In addition to their work with the Green Buildings team, both Rivas and Kunz have been involved at UC Davis and in the college in numerous ways. Rivas has served as the Peru Project Team for Engineers Without Borders, participated in the Chicano and Latino Engineers and Scientists Society, is a member of the Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Honor Society and was a recipient of the 2021 Chevron Scholar Award. Kunz is a former student athlete for the UC Davis Women’s Soccer team and the president of the student athlete resource group Davis Athlete Ally, which works to foster an inclusive environment for all athletes, coaches, fans and administrators whether they are LGBTQIA+ or allies to the community.

The Facilities Energy & Engineering team at UC Davis certifies existing campus buildings under LEED EB: OM and BREEAM In-Use. The library was awarded LEED Gold certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance in May 2021. Learn more.

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