San Diego When Palomar College set out to replace eight small maintenance and operations buildings scattered around campus, school officials said they wanted something that would stand out as a model of energy and water conservation and meet other measurements of sustainability.
“We wanted to try to set an example,” said Dennis Astl, college manager of construction and facilities planning. “We didn’t say we wanted anything in particular, we just said we wanted a very sustainable, low operating cost building.”
The $13 million two-building complex — BNIM architects designed and Level 10 Construction is building — aims to meet some of the stiffest sustainability standards in the construction industry.
“They really challenged us to come back with some unique ideas,” said Matthew Porreca, principal and director of BNIM.
Porreca said the result is that the 30,000 square-foot complex will achieve LEED (U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification and the even more stringent Living Building Petal certification set by the International Living Future Institute based in Seattle.
26 Buildings Certified, So Far
Palomar would be the first community college in the world to gain Living Building Petal certification, said Megan Ritchie Saffitz, certification director of the Living Future Institute.
So far, only 26 buildings worldwide have gained Petal certification.
To meet LEED standards, a builder must show that he is taking certain steps to meet energy and water conservation goals.
To become Living Building Petal certified, a building must operate within strict conservation guidelines for a full-year after construction is finished.
Performance Based Rankings
“This certification is based on performance,” Saffitz said, as opposed to saying top of the line material was used in its construction.
Among other things, the Palomar College complex will produce more energy than it uses and collect rainwater to irrigate the surrounding landscape.
A rooftop solar array of more than 300 panels will generate electricity for the building and help shade the interior.
Five, 28-foot-tall thermal chimneys will provide cooling by circulating air through the interior. The thermal chimneys also will help provide heating during cold spells.
Louvers that can open at night and close during the day also will help with cooling, and computer-controlled windows can open and close, depending on the temperature outdoors.
Vertical and horizontal aluminum sunshades on the exterior will minimize solar heat gain and reflect light inside to help with the natural lighting.
“There will be some days you’ll have to turn on the air conditioning,” Porreca said. “Right now, it’s predicted to be about 15 percent (of the time).”