By Luke Carothers

California State University–Long Beach (CSULB) is currently well on their way to achieving their goal of a Net Zero campus by 2030.  The University has recently announced plans to construct their first student housing building in over forty years.  To ensure the new student housing project was able to further their sustainability goals, the administration turned to McCarthy Building Companies to help.

While McCarthy Building Companies served as the GC for the project, Gensler served as the architect, and Glumac served as the criteria engineer.  The plan for the new student housing project is to create two new buildings: The Parkside Housing North building and the Housing Administration Office.  

Recently named one of the top twenty green builders in the country, McCarthy is no stranger to sustainable building in Southern California.  Having previously worked on sustainable housing projects for California State University Northridge and Los Angeles, they are familiar with the state’s university system and felt comfortable using their previous experience on the CSULB project.

In order to achieve the goal of a Net Zero campus by the year 2030, CSULB has set some aggressive campus guidelines, and the new project will reflect this movement towards sustainability.  Several portions of McCarthy’s project at CSULB will have various levels of sustainability accreditation.  The Parkside Housing North portion will be Net Zero energy and will be certified LEED Platinum.  The Housing Administration Office will also be Net Zero energy and certified LEED Platinum, but the team is also seeking full certification from the Living Building Challenge.  This is the first Living Building Challenge project for the team at McCarthy; it will also be only the 3rd project in California and the 23rd in the world to achieve full certification from the Living Building Challenge.    

One of the key components of the new student housing project is a state-of-the-art mechanical design that incorporates the latest high efficiency Variable Refrigerant Volume (VRV) technology, which allows for heating and cooling in each dorm as well as making the system more water efficient.  This VRV mechanical system does not utilize any water in its use, making it ideal for a sustainable project in California.  

In order to have enough power to operate, the mechanical system uses photovoltaic cells to generate power. 

Another innovative feature of the project is the heat recovery system utilized by the Housing Administration Office.  This system takes excess heat from equipment, occupants, and lighting and transfers it to rooms with windows and exterior walls.  This system improves the building’s energy efficiency during the winter months.


Luke Carothers is the Editor for Civil + Structural Engineer Media. If you want us to cover your project or want to feature your own article, he can be reached at lcarothers@zweiggroup.com.

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