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SDSU broke ground on the new Aztec Student Union on June 1. SDSU broke ground on the new Aztec Student Union on June 1.

Out with Aztec Center, in with Aztec Student Union

San Diego State University and Associated Students broke ground, June 1, on the new Aztec Student Union.

With clear blue skies, a red and black backdrop, and a bright green future, San Diego State University and Associated Students broke ground, June 1, on the new Aztec Student Union.

The sustainable project will benefit multiple generations of Aztecs to come, providing a living room for connecting, studying, eating and relaxing. The original Aztec Center, which served the SDSU campus for 43 years, officially closed its doors on May 24. Abatement and demolition is scheduled to begin on or around June 11.

“This is an investment that [the students] will make,” said President Stephen L. Weber. “The students are stepping up to make this a better world for future students. That’s what society is supposed to be.”

Breaking ground on the future

Weber was joined by AS President Cody Barbo, AS Associate Executive Director Christina Brown, Sundt Construction’s Steve Van Loan, Cannon Design’s Craig Hamilton and United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Jay Bart for the official groundbreaking. Their shovels dug into the dirt at 10:31 a.m. to usher in the Aztec Student Union era.

Geoff Chase, Dean of SDSU’s Division of Undergraduate Studies, provided insight on the importance of the sustainability element to the project.

“Today’s groundbreaking is a momentous occasion,” said Dean Chase, who also serves as director of SDSU's Center for Regional Sustainability. “I am very proud to follow in the footsteps of these students. The new Aztec Student Union is one of those cultural moments, and it involves everyone here. This is about a building that is kinder to the human beings who inhabit it.”

First LEED Platinum student union in CSU

The Aztec Student Union is designed to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certified, USGBC’s highest rating for green buildings. This would make the Aztec Student Union the only LEED Platinum student union in the entire CSU system and it will use nearly 40 percent less energy and water compared to similar buildings. Roughly 80 percent of materials in the original Aztec Center will be recycled and/or reused for the new Aztec Student Union.  

Some of the green features of the building include solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity, a vegetated rooftop to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and underground storage tanks that help to conserve water by recycling storm water run-off.

Grant Mack, who served as A.S. President in 2010-11 and was instrumental in getting the project underway, was as an honored guest. Other former A.S. council executives present included Tyler Morgan and Joy Salvatin.

Echoing the enthusiasm of the student body, Barbo said, “This is one small step for Aztecs, and one giant leap for San Diego State.”

For updates about the Aztec Student Union construction, visit The Aztec Student Union Update Blog.

Aztec Student Union Construction - June 14, 2011
Aztec Student Union under construction on June 14, 2011.