developed here – the sweeping expanse of beautiful and valuable open space – as it is for the outstanding communities we’ve planned and built offering an unparalleled quality of life,” Donald Bren noted.
Bren is a very likable billionaire, because his scope goes beyond capitalism. A noted environmentalist, in 2001 Bren has donated more than 50,000 acres of the Irvine Ranch to be used as open space and recreation and to preserve the Orange County ecosystem. Mr. Bren also committed $30 million for the long-term management, preservation and restoration of the natural resources on the Irvine Ranch Land Reserve, and increased public access to the lands.
A 2001 Los Angeles Times Editorial noted. “The breathtaking scope
of the holiday season land gift, and the renunciation of development opportunities
that have accompanied it, has raised the bar for large landowners –
not just locally – but everywhere, on balancing growth with wildlife
habitate and open space preservation.”
His charitable impact is truly felt at the state University level. Bren is on the record books as contributing more to support endowed chairs than any other single donor in the history of the University of California school system. Privately and through his foundations, he has given more than $60 million to support faculty and programs. In 2004, UC awarded him its highest honor, the University of California Presidential Medal.
“For well over two decades, Mr. Bren’s focus on the creation
of endowment funds to support faculty chairs has helped bring to the University
of California some of the best researchers and scholars in the nation
and the world. His passionate philanthropy and commitment to education
excellence have helped strengthen the university,” noted UC President
Robert Dynes in June 2004.
Up at UCSB, Bren gave an initial donation of $20 million to establish the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, a graduate studies program dedicated to the prevention and solution of environmental problems.
Opened in April 2002, Donald Bren Hall is the most environmentally sustainable -- laboratory building in the United States. Bren Hall sets the highest standard for sustainable buildings of the future.
The total cost of the building was $26 million. Building in a sustainable manner with sustainable materials added only 2% to the overall costs, which will easily be recouped by the energy savings over time.
The following year, the UC Regents adopted a Green Building Policy for
all of its 10 campuses, and in November of that year UCSB committed to
construct all new buildings to environmentally sustainable levels. Bren
Hall is being used as a model for facilities and operations.
For more on Southern California commercial properties there is a great
information blog at www.socalindustrialrealestateblog.com.