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Project spotlight: Sterling Alvarado Student Housing at San Diego

Published on Written by Posted in LEED

USGBC's new, free report, LEED in Motion: Residential, highlights the numbers, knowledge and resources you need to keep pace with the rapidly growing green residential market. 

Download the full report for more interviews and project highlights from best and brightest minds in the industry. 

The Dinerstein Companies, the developers behind the Sterling Alvarado project, strived to create a new, modern student housing project for nursing students at San Diego State University that would be energy efficient, environmentally conscious, and cutting edge for student housing developments in the area. The Dinerstein Companies also completed another LEED project in the same market a year prior to breaking ground on this project that was the first LEED student housing project in the city. It was a great success and was well received by the community, largely due to the commitment to sustainability and LEED certification. Wanting to continue with this positive momentum, The Dinerstein Companies were striving for an even better project with Sterling Alvarado, ultimately reaching LEED For Homes Gold. 

The project team focused mainly on energy efficiency and ventilation strategies. Given the orientation of the building and the limited floor space, this became a major variable in design. To meet ventilation requirements, the team went with the continuous exhaust strategy. Given the climate zone of San Diego, the team didn’t have to design to address humidity, which saved on construction and operating costs. To get cooling and heating loads down, the project team used a combination of the ultra-efficient tankless water heaters, ductless 26 SEER HVAC units, and 14 SEER HVAC split systems with hydronic heating. They also focused on lighting densities and used high performance ENERGY STAR appliances and windows. This focus early on helped the project reach a building performance improvement of 25.1 percent over California’s 2008 Title 24 Energy Code. 

San Diego State University’s student body and faculty have made a huge commitment to sustainability: so much so that they have adopted sustainability policies as part of their curriculum and made it a requirement that their student center achieve a LEED Platinum designation. This being said, the Sterling Alvarado student housing project’s commitment to LEED has had a huge impact on occupants, staff and the community. It is a reminder to neighbors and residents of the importance of sustainability. 

The biggest difference has been seen in reduced utility bills. The building has had a 30 percent savings in utility expenses and is operating below the allotted water use allocation for a building of its occupancy type. Besides the expense savings, the building has a community activity center and a park that is open to the public to promote health. The student housing building is also conveniently located within walking distance to retail and San Diego’s MTS rail system, and residents are encouraged to go green with free MTS passes. To further reduce impact to the area, the building has a rideshare program, free bike rentals and a car charging station for residents with electric vehicles. Sterling Alvarado incorporates a small solar array to cover garage lighting, and residents receive education about sustainability. 

Download LEED in Motion: Residential to read more. 

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    Jennifer Easton made 10 contributions in the last 6 months

Jennifer Easton

Marketing & Communications Project Manager U.S. Green Building Council

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