Sustainable Strategies for the UCLA Hitch Suites and Commons Building

Tetra Tech’s High Performance Buildings Group provided sustainable mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineering for the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) housing complex project that includes a new Hitch Commons Building and the renovation of the Hitch Suites student residences.


  • Size: 75,000-square-foot Suites; 4,700-square-foot Commons Building
  • Construction Cost: $18 million
  • Client/Owner: University of California, Los Angeles
  • Architect: Steinberg Architects
  • Contractor: Holder Construction
  • Completion Date: 2013


Long overdue for an upgrade to address the accessibility, life safety, and seismic deficiencies of the aging buildings, Tetra Tech implemented sustainable strategies including an energy-efficient virtual routing and forwarding (VRF) heat pump system for the Commons Building with demand control ventilation, the replacement of all plumbing fixtures with low-flow fixtures, a new high-efficiency electrical transformer, occupancy sensors to replace standard light switches, and light harvesting through photocells in the Commons Building.

The existing Commons Building was completely replaced with a two-story, 4,700-square-foot building consisting of a student kitchen, laundry facilities, administration offices, and plenty of open, shared spaces for students to study and connect with each other. The Commons Building achieved LEED Platinum certification and won a Community Impact Award for Housing at the 2015 Los Angeles Business Council’s Architectural Awards.

At 75,000 square feet, the Hitch Suites student residence project involved four buildings, each with three stories and 81 units, lodging 380 students. Each suite in the complex consists of two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a living room. Hitch Suites also achieved LEED Platinum.

Images courtesy of Tim Griffith