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UC Coastal Biology Building & Marine Sciences Building

Santa Cruz, California

The UC Santa Cruz Coastal Biology Building is a marine biology laboratory space and is part of UCSC's Long Marine Campus. The new building contains a mix of wet and dry laboratory spaces, private offices, classrooms, greenhouses, and support spaces. The building also houses a seawater laboratory complete with a seawater storage tank farm for lab work.

Given the cool coastal climate, an early goal for the project was to cool the building without compressive cooling. All offices, laboratories and support spaces are served by a central VAV air handler with no cooling coil or evaporative cooling. Specialized analytical lab spaces and freezer farms are cooled using an efficient VRF system. The project also consists of a large multi-function seminar space that is cooled with an efficient single cone air handler without a cooling coil, assisted with Big Ass Fans and electrochromic glazing on the east façade.

The laboratory exhaust system is comprised of efficient VAV exhaust fans, complete with intelligent control sequences to maintain appropriate room pressures while maximizing energy savings. The team worked with wind consultants to determine low air change rates of 6 ACH while occupied, and 4 ACH while unoccupied met all safety standards for surrounding areas. The study also confirmed that the stack exit velocities associated with the low exhaust airflows were safe and the system could operate without a bypass damper and its associated wasted energy.

Size (ft²)




Project Type


Scope of Work

Design for HVAC, Plumbing, Fire + Sprinkler Systems




University of California at Santa Cruz




Swinerton Builders, OCMI Construction, Automated Systems Group


Michael David Rose


EHDD: Scott Shell, Swinerton: Jeff Stephenson, UCSC: Matt Demonner

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