Environmentally conscious students now have a place to call home thanks to this month’s official opening of Plaza Verde. Partnering with American Campus Communities, the University of California, Irvine built the Plaza Verde residence tower in order to target UCI’s Zero-Net Energy operation and a LEED Platinum certification. Envisioned as a living and learning space, students now have the opportunity to live in an eco-friendly, all-electric community. 

Five stories tall and housing 1,441 beds, the completed project furthers UCI’s commitment to large-scale affordable green living. With units starting at $789 per person, students will have access to fully-furnished apartments, fitness centers, and an Academic Success Center for individual and group study. 

“In addition to being a healthy and dynamic student community, Plaza Verde is the greenest large-scale student community that has been developed,” said Bill Bayless, American Campus Communities CEO. “We have gone to extensive lengths to ensure sustainability and student-focused design are at the forefront, from initially designing and testing systems for an efficient and comfortable community, then arranging a sizable offset for energy that will actually be achieved.”

The university was able to complete the new construction with help from American Campus Communities. “Since 2004, UCI and American Campus Communities have partnered to create a supportive and sustainable living-meets-learning environment for UCI students,” said Dr. Enrique Lavernia, UCI provost and executive vice chancellor. “Our work at UCI has set a model for public-private partnerships as other universities have seen what we have done to transform UCI from a commuter campus to a campus where students can enjoy the benefits of the residential university experience.”

The university hopes to continue the partnership and provide further benefits to the student community. 

“We are very proud of our ongoing partnership with American Campus Communities to create this award-winning sustainable and healthy living environment offered at affordable prices,” said Willie Banks, vice chancellor for student affairs at UCI. “This first-of-its-kind project at UCI is the start of our plans for continuous sustainable innovations moving forward.”

By using an all-electric system, Plaza Verde has no need for natural gas. The addition of heat pump water heaters, an electric outdoor grill system, and other efficient appliances helps the residence to achieve greater sustainability.

Located at 15000 Arroyo Drive, the building is situated close to several public transit lines. In order to encourage green living, Plaza Verde offers its residents bike storage with the ability to accommodate more than 760 bikes. 

With a non-smoking policy and other design strategies meant to optimize student health, UCI encourages a mindful, sustainable community. 

“It’s amazing that this community was built for students, like me, who are passionate about sustainability but also in need of affordability,” said Randy Yan, a third-year biological sciences major and president of the Associated Students of the University of California, Irvine (ASUCI). “From the inviting entrance with the grand staircase to the quality amenities like the academic success center, Plaza Verde provides a beautiful, comfortable sustainable living space while providing the necessary academic resources. It’s a win-win.”

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