Fresno Church Gets LEED Gold Rating

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno has received LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) Gold certification, the first development in the central San Joaquin Valley to gain this prestigious designation.

A plaque honoring the LEED rating will be affixed to the church in a ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 5. Tours will begin immediately afterward, followed by the program, “The UUCF LEED Gold Project, a Case Study,” at 6:30 p.m.

The church, near Alluvial and Willow avenues, finished construction in 2008, and is the first new construction project between Merced and Bakersfield to be certified LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council.

A project must achieve at least 39 points out of a 69-point rating system to achieve that status. The church project reached 41 points, said George Burman, LEED Project Administrator for the church.

The congregation strongly endorsed the LEED efforts, even though it added 1% to 2% to the cost. In fact, the members were willing to pay as much as 10% more to get the certification.

“It was more a matter of principle than cost, Burman said. “It was not a question of financial payback, but rather of our responsibility to the environment.”

“With each new LEED certified building, we get one step closer to the U.S. Green Building Council’s vision of a sustainable built environment within a generation,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, chief executive officer and founding chair of the council. “The Unitarian Universalist Church is an important addition to the growing strength of the green-building movement.”

Energy efficiency is the hallmark of the new building; an analysis of the energy consumption indicates that the church uses 53.6% less energy than what is required under California’s Title-24 energy efficiency standard. The church also received points for use of recycled and non-toxic building materials, use of natural daylight, site location, landfill waste diversion and even waterless urinals.