“Net Zero-Plus” Campus to Be National Model for Sustainability Strategies

A self-sustaining “Net Zero-Plus” college campus being built in Palm Springs, Calif., is under way to becoming a national model for sustainability strategies.

HGA Architects and Engineers has completed the design for phase one of the new West Valley Campus at College of the Desert in Palm Springs, Calif.—a project that sets new benchmarks for integrating sustainable design and high-performance building technologies into the academic curriculum. HGA is directing the master planning, programming, design and sustainability of the campus, which will become a national model for innovative sustainable strategies.

“This project has forward-thinking goals that go beyond Net Zero Energy to embrace a Zero-Plus plan that creates renewable clean energy rather than simply uses less energy,” Patrick Thibaudeau, LEED AP, vice president of sustainable design at HGA, said in a statement. “The Zero-Plus plan targets five integrated sustainable goals:Zero-Plus energy, carbon, water, waste and materials. The plan emphasizes on-site electricity production through photovoltaic solar panels and establishes consumption targets to be less than or equal to available resources. As an educational model, the West Valley Campus is an opportunity to integrate local ecology, create innovative learning opportunities for students and bring together public agencies, the college and private industry to explore new approaches to sustainability.”

The plan emphasizes energy production along with substantial conservation and energy efficiency, waste recovery and biomimicry (which incorporates sustainable processes from nature into the campus plan and architectural systems) in partnership with green industries and educational initiatives. The site’s unique ecology and natural resources are being taken into consideration in the creation of a national model for sustainable research and teaching that also supports the local economy and educational needs in the local Coachella Valley area.

The project will include 50,000 sq. ft. of academic space occupying several buildings clustered around a shaded courtyard. When complete in January 2015, this phase will include basic skills labs, culinary arts spaces and a Desert Energy Enterprise Center that engages students in the engineering of solar panels and wind turbines. Currently at the California Division of the State Architect for approval, the construction of the site work will begin in July 2013.

HGA also is working with the College of the Desert on the Applied Sciences Building, which includes new construction and renovation of an existing building on the Palm Desert campus. The project is targeted for LEED Silver.

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