Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Architecture


Margot McDonald


While in recent years Cal Poly has moved in the direction of sustainable building, my research indicates that where other CSU’s have succeeded, Cal Poly has been challenged in developing the type of green buildings that would truly make new construction projects more sustainable. The most commonly cited barriers are cost and lack of funding. The outcome however (as evidenced by other CSU’s) is not just driven by the state’s capital outlay process that has historically supported new construction on CSU campuses. It is determined by the priorities, perceptions and values that have influenced Cal Poly’s decision makers and driven campus practices.

The purpose of this study is to develop an understanding of and solution for the barriers to green buildings on the Cal Poly campus that can be used as a model for other universities. Using a qualitative analysis supported by interviews, case studies, literature and policy review, and industry reports, I identify and examine the elements of the funding paradigm beyond the traditional funding mechanisms for capital projects within the CSU to propose a solution for Cal Poly. This includes exposing the perceptions about the cost of green construction (and LEED™ certification) and identifying cost reduction strategies; addressing the university’s leadership, values and organization around sustainability priorities, including the need to approach building projects more holistically; examining the university’s ability to capitalize on alternative resources; and, finally, presenting a theory on the marketability of green construction, including use of LEED™ as a fundraising tool. If adopted, I posit that Cal Poly can (and should) transform the funding paradigm to adopt a sustainability paradigm in support of higher performing, green buildings.

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Architecture Commons