Mesa Lane Partners and Dipaola Capital celebrated the grand opening of The LOOP, Isla Vista’s first privately owned, LEED-certified, and sustainability focused housing development, cutting the ribbon on the $17 million building Friday evening in front of a crowd of students, business owners, and government officials from across the county and state.
Neil Dipaola, chief executive officer and managing partner of Mesa Lane Partners, graduated from UCSB in 2006 with degrees in environmental science and public policy. The LOOP is his brain child, a highly sustainable mixed-use housing and retail building designed to offer a different standard of housing and living from Isla Vista’s typical environment.
Area government officials came out in force to see the building’s opening, as State Assemblymember Das Williams, 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, and several members of the Goleta and Santa Barbara planning commissions mingled with the crowd.
Farr and Williams, a personal friend of Dipaola, both said the project stood out from other developments in the area. “[Dipaola] could have made an easier path, he could have made a path where he made more money, but he took a path that is going to be something that this community is going to be proud of,” Williams said.
While LEED-certified buildings are not uncommon in Santa Barbara, Dipaola’s is the only privately financed student housing building to achieve certification. Farr said The LOOP was “the most cutting-edge green building project … we have ever seen.”
Dipaola’s project has been recognized at the state and national levels as well, winning the Governor’s California EPA Environmental and Economic Leadership Award and the Santa Barbara County Innovative Building Level III award.
Inside its walls, The LOOP holds a variety of private, semi-private, and shared bedroom suites leased out to students by the bed. It utilizes 40 percent less water than comparable buildings and is the first in the county to use “Phase Change” drywall materials, which fluctuate between liquid and solid insulation depending on the outside temperature to regulate indoor climate with minimal air conditioning. It is a mixed-use building, with the residences lofted a floor above several retail spaces available for rent.
According to Dipaola, balance between economics and environment has been a large theme of the project’s development. Dipaola said he thinks he has found the ingredients needed to create housing that satisfies both requirements as well as accommodating the needs of the communities it exists in.
“It’s really easy to build a cheap building; it’s even easier to build a expensive building,” Dipaola said. “What’s really difficult, though, is to build a building that is thoughtful toward the environment, is architecturally significant, and that is economically viable. And I think that with a lot of hard work … we’ve done just that. And that’s thinking big.”