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Thomas Jefferson’s new campus goes green

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Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL) is one of the few law schools on the cutting edge of “going green” in the 21st century. The new eight-story campus in the East Village at 1155 Island Ave., which opened in January, is constructed to be as energy efficient as possible, incorporating green solutions throughout its innovative design and systems. This includes nearly everything from the energy saving phones and virtual desktops in offices to the interior walls of the structure, which contain recycled content.

A 49-kilowatt photovoltaic energy system owned by San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) was installed on the roof to produce clean, renewable energy for the school and surrounding community -- enough to power 32 homes. The roof also features a “cool roof” membrane that reflects heat from the sun and reduces the cooling loads on the building.

Hycrete, a sustainable concrete mixture that turns regular concrete into a waterproof barrier, was used for the building’s foundation, keeping water out of the flooring and adding to the positive environmental impact. Water efficient, drought-resistant landscaping reduces water usage by roughly 50 percent. The water use for the entire building is estimated at 20 percent below average.

The information technology Department at TJSL worked hard to incorporate energy-efficient electronics into the new building. The department replaced 90 percent of the server infrastructure to save energy and reduce the school’s carbon footprint. More than 100 power-hungry PCs on campus were replaced with four servers and virtual terminals to cut power consumption and creation of greenhouse gases. The law school switched to Cisco Systems technology, which allows the network to intelligently monitor power usage.

The green theme is also reflected aesthetically throughout the new campus. The building’s fifth floor boasts an 85-foot living wall, which showcases succulent plants arranged in a vivid patchwork design. This creates a relaxing urban oasis for students while helping to cool the environment. Each plant displayed on campus has been carefully selected from San Diego’s native flora to thrive on less water.

TJSL participates in SDGE’s Sustainable Communities and Savings by Design Program and has been recognized by the utility for its green efforts. On March 9, SDGE presented TJSL Dean Rudy Hasl with an incentive check for $111,199in recognition of the strides the school has made toward a sustainable building.

The school also expects to earn “Gold Level” certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Rating System of the U.S. Green Building Council in the near future.

Hasl, or the “Green Dean” as he’s now called by some, is proud of the new TJSL campus and the efforts that have been made to promote environmental awareness.

“I hope that our leadership in sustainability is a catalyst for others to follow and stands as a model for our students in civic responsibility,” said Hasl.

Submitted by Elisabeth Donovan, a second-year student at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

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