2023 Sustainability Awards

We received 35 incredible entries for the 2023 Sustainability Awards, making the award selection process competitive and challenging. Read on to explore the Sustainability Award winners, join us in thanking all participants and congratulating the awardees.

Sustainability Marvels

California State University Long Beach Parkside North Residence Hall by Gensler Architects in San Diego

The Residence Hall has achieved LEED BD+C v4 Platinum, LBC Petal Certification (Energy, Place & Beauty + Education), and Zero Net Energy status. Considering solar exposure and natural ventilation in the design, the building faces North/South and embraces ideal solar exposure for a majority of rooms. Operable windows in every room provide direct access to fresh air and daylight and a robust lighting strategy, with 75% of the total connected lighting load as indirect fixtures reduces energy consumption and enhances ambiance. This thoughtful approach limits solar heat gain and glare and ensures that students have well-lit, inviting spaces for living and learning. The rooftop terrace is accessible throughout the day, shaded by bifacial PV panels, and is a key component of the Net Zero Energy design.


El Cerrito Housing Development by LPA Architects

This development has an unwavering commitment to sustainability, including an innovative use of single use recycled shipping containers and a groundbreaking approach to mixed-use development featuring 172 residential units, a parking structure, and a ground-floor behavioral health clinic. The residential units are fully prefabricated off site and the design integrates high-performance features such as natural ventilation, daylighting, and solar heat gain control. The MEP system utilizes a centralized VRF system and electric heat pump boiler for domestic hot water, further reducing its carbon footprint, and the integration of landscape with architecture promotes biophilia, connecting residents with nature and enhancing health and wellness. Multiple roof vegetated decks and a community vegetable garden reduce heat gain, collect stormwater, and contribute to the project's overall sustainability goals.


Allensworth Passage by SmithGroup

Located in Allensworth, this 11,000 square foot Teaching and Innovation Farm Lab is more than just a building—it's a beacon of hope and progress. Founded, financed, and governed in 1908 by Black Americans, Allensworth holds a special place in history and Allensworth Passage pays special tribute to this legacy while charting a course for a sustainable future. Every aspect of the project is geared towards addressing the injustices faced by the community since its founding and includes decarbonization strategies and net-zero energy design. The project tackles food scarcity by envisioning a space where local farmers can distribute their produce yield back to the community. Addressing water scarcity, Allensworth Passage captures stormwater and treats it onsite to ensure access to clean water. And in the face of flooding and extreme heat, the project serves as a safe haven and cooling center for the community, ensuring the safety and well-being of its residents. Allensworth Passage is a testament to the unyielding spirit of its residents and the power of innovation and community collaboration, serving as a catalyst for transformation and progress.


La Semilla by Workshop B Architects

La Semilla, or "The Seed," is more than just an innovative climate resiliency research center—it is sustainability and environmental justice in physical form. Situated in San Ysidro, one of San Diego's most disadvantaged communities, La Semilla is a testament to the transformative power of sustainable development. San Ysidro faces numerous challenges, from limited access to fresh food to poor air quality caused by heavy traffic from the nearby border crossing. La Semilla addresses these issues head-on, demonstrating climate-resilient, affordable, and low-maintenance construction methods and urban farming techniques that can be deployed in the community. Key strategies employed in the design of La Semilla include biophilic design, capturing stormwater for reuse, and achieving net-zero energy through 100% mass timber buildings, minimizing environmental impact in a functional and beautiful space.


Metrics and Research Mastery Award


IQHQ RaDD by Gensler

Across from the USS Midway Museum in downtown San Diego, IQHQ RADD transforms what was once an underutilized parking lot site into a vibrant Research and Development District, or RaDD. With access to daylight and fresh air to cutting-edge technology like electro-chromic glazing systems and water-efficient heating and cooling systems, IQHQ RaDD sets a new standard for sustainable urban development. The design approach for this neighborhood is nothing short of revolutionary, focusing on connecting the city to the harbor through pedestrian-friendly amenities and green spaces. IQHQ RaDD is committed to sustainability and research mastery. Pursuing LEED BD+C for C&S Gold Certification, Fitwel Commercial Site Certification, SmartScore Certification, and WiredScore Certification, this project leaves no stone unturned in its quest for excellence. Every aspect of the design is informed by extensive research into operational carbon, EUI metrics analysis, renewable energy systems, water systems, and materials and embodied carbon.


Sustainable Detail and System Maverick Award


The Serenity Project by Hubbell and Hubbell

This project is a masterpiece of sustainable design, blending seamlessly with natural surroundings and pushing the boundaries of innovation. Nestled amidst boulders and manzanita trees, The Serenity Project is more than just a home; it is a sanctuary designed to inspire and immerse its inhabitants in the beauty of nature. From the natural flagstone steps leading to the house to the locally crafted stained-glass door welcoming you into the open-concept, double-height space, every detail has been thoughtfully considered to create a space that fosters harmony with the environment. One of the most remarkable features of The Serenity Project is its use of natural materials and innovative building techniques. The curved, reflective roof mimics the rounded boulders, preventing excessive heat gain, while the Foam Core Sandwich Panels and Insulating Composite Concrete Form blocks provide superior insulation and soundproofing. Inside, a massive boulder acts as a thermal mass, further blurring the lines between indoors and outdoors. The stained concrete floor flows seamlessly onto the outdoor patio, creating a unified space that invites residents to connect with nature. But perhaps the most inspiring aspect of The Serenity Project is its commitment to sustainability. Every detail, from the preserved trees to the recycled materials, whispers a story of respect for the environment and is a testament to mindful living and harmonious relationships with nature.


Sustainable Leadership Legend (Organization) Award


Associated Students of SDSU

This remarkable organization has inspired positive change through ultra-green operations, maintenance, and services within existing buildings. With a portfolio boasting four LEED Platinum and four LEED Gold Certified facilities, including one Double LEED Platinum, they have set the bar high for sustainability standards. From sourcing fresh produce from nearby community gardens for their student union food pantry to transitioning to zero-waste events and implementing student-run clothing swaps, they have made sustainability a cornerstone of their organization's ethos. In terms of building operations, they prioritize preventive maintenance and fine-tuning of HVAC systems, ensuring minimal energy use and maximum occupant comfort. With almost 2 megawatts of onsite solar, they have offset over 50% of their electricity consumption, strive for net-zero through equipment upgrades and electrification, co-funded a campus carbon neutrality feasibility study, actively engaged in Scope 1-3 emissions reduction efforts, and lobbied state government. Most impressively, in 2023, they raised more than $50,000 for their university's first ESG-invested scholarship endowment, rewarding students for outstanding leadership in sustainability.


Sustainable Leadership Legend (Individual) Award


Susan Freed, RA, LEED AP, CEM

A true pioneer in decarbonization at scale, Susan Freed’s outstanding leadership throughout her decade at the County of San Diego’s Energy and Sustainability Division has enabled sustainable performance across the County’s 1000+ building portfolio, leaving a legacy of innovative programs and award-winning projects that will serve as references for sustainability success in San Diego and beyond for years to come.



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