Campus, News

New LBSU project to create a solar power residential hall

In the next two years, Long Beach State is planning to build one of the first net zero housing buildings in the California State University system, behind UC Davis’ West Village project which is the largest net-zero energy community.

The Long Beach State Housing and Residential Life department has submitted an approval for an additional on-campus student housing building near Atherton Street and Earl Warren Drive. This would be the first new housing building that the school has developed in over 30 years.

According to LBSU’s Common Data Set 2017-2018, 31.97 percent of first-year students and 19.84 percent of undergraduates live in college-owned and operated housing.

HRL Executive Director Corry Colonna said he hopes the school will start building the structure in the summer of 2019 if the construction plans and design architecture are approved by University Leadership. The office would open in summer 2020 and the new residential hall in 2021.

The upcoming project will cost an estimated $100 million and have approximately 432 beds, providing students with the option to room alone or with a roommate.

Another room style to be offered is the new “true” suite, which Colonna described as “a common room, with two doubles on the sides and a bathroom or two included in there, shared by four people.” Colonna plans to have 60 true suites in the new building.

Besides cost, construction and time, Colonna said that a challenge the university faces is making the building net zero, which is the standard President Jane Close Conoley and University Leadership have made as it is a way to reduce carbon footprint.  

“Net zero is the university’s goal with any new constructions. We’re building in a way that is sustainable enough that it is creating as much energy as it is using,” Colonna said. “We’ll be one of the first net zero residence halls, I believe, in the CSU if all goes as planned.”

Colonna said he is up for the challenge and hopes to continue making energy saving resources and sustainable products.

The school is currently working with design and construction team, Gensler and McCarthy.  Gensler is the architecture firm and McCarthy is the construction company that was chosen to create a design plan for the development. The university hopes to make the new building three to four floors high and H-shaped, with the middle line acting as a bridge between the two structures, but the design is not official yet.

However, Colonna said that with every new construction project, there will always be sound and traffic issues with regards to its location and nearby neighborhoods.

“It is going to be located right next to the Child Development Center where the housing office building is now where the Grow Beach! [organic garden] area is,” said Mark Zakhour, director of design and construction services.

Because the location is nearby other student housing, it may affect student’s daily routines with the construction and noise.

“I would be pissed if I was a kid living over there during that time, I’d want to be outside,” said Andres Lopez, a senior marketing major.

LBSU will be working with Gensler and McCarthy to create a plan that would generate the fewest disruptions for this type of construction.

“We are working hard to find ways to build the space with the fewest interruptions as possible. For example, we believe we can do this without disrupting any of the campus parking,” Colonna said. “Students in the Parkside [dorms] and those in Los Cerritos will be the ones who will most likely experience the noise and dirt, etc. We will work with the construction firm to mitigate those issues.”

According to Zakhour, the architecture and constructions firms are going to start designing next month and hope to be breaking ground next October.

The university is currently awaiting final approval to receive the loan from the Chancellor’s Office. The housing loan will essentially pay itself off through student’s rent. The presentation will first be sent to the CSU System-wide Housing Committee and then the CSU Board of Trustees.

HRL has conducted surveys and studies to tailor the new housing to the needs of incoming LBSU students, who the additional housing is meant for. Colonna said there are plans for students to help select some of the finishing touches, furniture and designs for the building to ensure it suits the style of the campus.

According to Colonna, the residence hall will likely be on campus for 50 or more years in the future.

“We’re aiming to get net zero and if we can figure out ways to create energy, above and beyond, that’s even better. That’s called ‘net positive’ if we can do that,” Colonna said.

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