The mixed-use Poly Canyon Village student housing complex at California Polytechnic State Institute, San Luis Obispo, Calif., has earned LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The 30-acre complex was master-planned and designed by MVE Institutional, an affiliated of Irvine, Calif.-based MVE & Partners. Although the project initially was seeking LEED Silver certification, MVE Institutional, along with design/build team Clark Construction, Bethesda, Md., and Niles Bolton Associates, Atlanta, designed it to higher standards while staying within the budget of $300 million.

Poly Canyon Village houses 2,700 students in 868 units in a village-like setting embracing a town center. The village’s nine housing structures are divided into three neighborhoods based on topography, social considerations and architectural detailing. The neighborhoods reflect the mixed Mediterranean architectural traditions of Cal Poly and California’s Central Coast.

Several factors contributed to the facility’s LEED Gold certification, including roof overhang shading, insulated windows and high-efficiency HVAC systems. Two power co-generation plants direct energy back into the utility grid. In addition to meeting LEED Gold standards, the village also exceeds California Title 24 energy-use building codes. Water-saving plumbing fixtures and drought-tolerant plantings cut back on water use. The nearby Brizzolara Creek was reconstructed to restore the historic riparian habitat.

Each of the three neighborhoods has informal outdoor gathering spaces, courtyards, common lobbies and small and large study areas. The main square, or town center, offers retail services, including a market, coffee café, casual dining, a copy shop and the “Canyon Post,” a student-run post and delivery office. Recreation facilities include basketball and sand volleyball courts, as well as swimming pools.