LEED Buildings


Performing Arts Center and Wangari Mathaii Building-LEED Gold Certified

The 1,000-seat Soka Performing Arts Center and adjacent academic building Wangari Maathai Hall received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification. These two buildings opened in September 2011 and were constructed to meet energy-efficient and eco-friendly standards. “Soka University is proud to accept this LEED Gold Certification,” noted SUA President Dr. Daniel Habuki.  “One of our university principles is to ‘Foster leaders for the creative coexistence of nature and humanity.’ -- so we asked our architects and contractor to do their best to make these buildings as environmentally sensitive as possible.”

Designed to truly reflect the university's commitment to sustainability, both buildings have been built to high LEED standards and feature vegetated green roofs.  Photo voltaic cells on the Soka Performing Arts Center roof generate approximately 15% of the facility's electrical needs.  See our Soka Performing Arts Center Fact Sheet and solar generation statistics below!

“The Soka University project team was focused on sustainability from day one and worked hard to make this goal a reality,” explained McCarthy Executive Vice President Mark Mardock.  “We are proud to have been involved in producing this high performance facility that will sustain our environment and serve the Orange County community for years to come.”

Designed by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP of Los Angeles, the new buildings were built with a combination of structural concrete and structural steel frame. The buildings’ exteriors feature smooth plaster walls, travertine stone bands, aluminum curtain walls, clear glass glazing and clay tile and green roofs that provide insulation and help absorb rain water.

The project’s design and construction team pursued United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Certification for the buildings. In order to achieve the Gold LEED rating, McCarthy used sustainable construction methods throughout the project, including minimizing unrecyclable construction waste, maintaining proper indoor air quality and ensuring that the subcontractors install the specified green materials. The design of these two buildings incorporates numerous sustainable and energy efficiency solutions. The academic building features operable windows, displacement ventilation and a green roof. The Soka Performing Arts Center’s green roof and sunshade structure surrounding the lobby use photovoltaic (solar) panels, and a bioswale help manage storm water runoff. McCarthy used building materials made from recycled content that were locally extracted, processed and regionally manufactured. Additionally, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood and low emitting adhesives, sealants, paints, carpets and composite wood products were incorporated in both structures.


  • The buildings are anticipated to consume about 28 percent less energy than if it had been built to conventional building codes.
  • To that end, photovoltaic panels located along a top row of external sunshades for the Center’s main lobby and on the Concert Hall’s roof will generate an estimated 15 percent of the energy the facility uses. The fixed sunshades are designed to reduce heat gain in the main lobby yet permit visibility.
  • The facility also employs an array of water-saving features, such as low-flow water fixtures and high-efficiency instantaneous gas water heaters. The latter units heat water only when called for, and save energy in areas like theater support spaces that are used only in conjunction with performances. The project is expected to use 45 percent less water than a conventionally designed building.
  • The project’s vegetated green roof atop both the Performing Arts Center and the Black Box Theater portion of Wangari Maathai Hall helps to manage and treat storm water runoff, as will a manmade swale behind the project’s academic spaces. Light-colored paving and roofing materials also reduce the urban heat island effect.
  • In addition, building materials include recycled content, and 75 percent of the project’s construction waste was recycled. The project also is using certified wood and low-VOC adhesives, sealants, paints, carpet and composite wood products.

Link to Electricity Consumption Monitor