San Marcos,
11:12 AM

CSUSM Announces Groundbreaking for New Eco-Friendly Veterans Center, Friday, Nov. 8

News Release | By Margaret Chantung

On Friday, Nov. 8 at 11 a.m., California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) will host a ceremony to celebrate the groundbreaking of its new Veterans Center. The stand-alone “smart house” is being donated to the University from students at the Stevens Institute of Technology (SIT) in Hoboken, N.J. and will be located on the currently vacant lot adjacent to Science Hall 1 and Markstein Hall.

CSUSM’s new Veterans Center was built and designed by 60 Stevens students for the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2013 Solar Decathlon in October, a biannual competition in which university teams from around the globe compete to design energy-efficient solar homes. The Stevens team took fourth place with their home, named Ecohabit, competing against 18 other universities from the Czech Republic, Canada, Austria and the United States.

A Commitment to Veterans

CSUSM, located close to Camp Pendleton and several other military installations, has the highest percentage of student veterans per capita of any California State University (CSU) campus. One of every ten Cal State San Marcos students is a veteran, service member, reservist or dependent, and that number is expected to grow as more military personnel retire or discharge and seek opportunities in the civilian world. The new 1,000-square-foot Veterans Center will go a long way toward strengthening CSUSM’s relationships with its military partners and ensuring the success of military-affiliated students at the University.

CSUSM opened its first Veterans Center on the third floor of Craven Hall in 2008. At the time it was only the second center of its kind in the CSU system assisting students get their GI benefits, navigate the admission process and register for courses. The center also helps them access campus resources, get involved in leadership activities and transition into the civilian work world.

“The Veterans Center will provide a bridge to help civilian students learn more about vets, dispel misconceptions and raise awareness of the advantages that student veterans bring to our community,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Lorena Meza.

“We always knew we wanted to donate Ecohabit to a deserving owner and put the house to a good use after the completion,” said Mark Pollock, Industry assistant professor at Stevens, faculty project manager for Ecohabit and a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces. “We felt strongly about its potential as a place for returning veterans or military personnel, given Stevens’ history and longstanding relationships within the defense industry. When we found out CSUSM was in need of a new space for its veteran students, we felt it was a perfect fit.”

“The opportunity to turn Ecohabit into a functioning facility for deserving veterans has made the Solar Decathlon competition a truly meaningful experience for our students,” added Dr. Michael Bruno, dean of the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science at Stevens.

Bigger, Better, Greener Veterans Center

Slated to be in use by fall 2014, the new center will feature many unique technological features and innovations and will include an office, a conference room and a lounge and event space.

Most distinguishing is that intelligence will be embedded into every component of the facility. With a central control system which collects and analyzes sensor data from each system to maximize efficiency, the center will automatically adapt to the use patterns of its occupants and teach them how to maintain a greener, more sustainable lifestyle.

Ecohabit’s “smart house” design is in line with CSUSM’s commitment to sustainability, conservation of resources and green building design. The University has striven to make LEED Gold its standard for all new buildings and has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency for its nearly 83 percent recycle rate during the annual RecycleMania competition.

The new Veterans Center will also be an excellent vehicle for advancing knowledge of energy use patterns and weather and temperature influences to maximize energy-efficiency. In addition to directly serving veteran students, CSUSM has the opportunity to engage its science and technology students in data monitoring, collection and analysis, working with their Stevens counterparts to study how technology, design and engineering can drive sustainability.

“Almost all of the emerging green technologies and design innovations built into Ecohabit will fully function when it is transitioned into the Veterans Center at CSUSM,” said Pollock. “This represents a tremendous opportunity for Stevens and CSUSM to further test these systems and continually learn from the data collected.”

“We are honored to be selected as the recipient of the Stevens Institute of Technology Solar Decathlon home,” said CSUSM President Karen Haynes. “Our student veterans, active duty personnel, reservists and their family members have contributed so much to our campus community and to the defense and security of our country. This new facility will further enhance our ability to serve those who have served us.  A point of pride, the new Veterans Center won’t be just an office but a place where military-affiliated students can find and build community while receiving services and assistance to meet their complex and unique needs.”

Who: CSUSM President Haynes; Michael Bruno, Dean of the Schaefer School of Engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology; Patrick O’Rourke, director of Active Duty and Veterans Affairs from the CSU Office of the Chancellor; CSUSM student veterans, staff, faculty and members of the general public.

What: Groundbreaking ceremony for new eco-friendly CSUSM Veterans Center

When: Friday, Nov. 8 at 11 a.m.; program will begin at approximately 11:15 a.m.

Where: California State University San Marcos, 333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd., San Marcos located on the dirt lot adjacent to Science Hall 1 and Markstein Hall. For more information on parking and directions, visit