Over the last five years, College of San Mateo has undergone the most significant construction activity since the College Heights campus was completed in 1963. I am very grateful for the support of the voters in San Mateo County who overwhelming passed Measure C in 2001 and Measure A in 2005. By law, these bonds were to be used exclusively for new construction and renovation projects.
I am proud that every construction project at CSM was built “on budget and on time”. Furthermore, our independent financial auditor has issued an unqualified opinion for each and every year that we have expended taxpayer-approved construction funds. What this means is that all construction expenses incurred by our college were made in accordance with the provisions of the bond measures – in other words, no funds were misspent.
Design and planning for the latest round of construction began in 2005. At that time our Board of Trustees adopted a series of guiding principles including sustainable design and construction practices. According to 2006 San Mateo County Community College District Facilities Master Plan: “Sustainable strategies include Site and Transportation, Construction Materials, Use of Renewables, Water Conservation, Energy Management, and Building Orientation and Design.”
Just as our financial auditor’s unqualified opinion provides independent, irrefutable proof regarding the fiscal integrity of our campus construction projects, the United States Green Building Council (USGB), a national non-profit organization, provides independent, irrefutable proof regarding our sustainability efforts. The USGBC created the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, a voluntary sustainable building code. I am pleased to announce that both of our new buildings, the Health and Wellness Building and College Center, have achieved LEED Gold certification. Our Health and Wellness Building also received a Green Building Award from Sustainable San Mateo County in 2011.
What Does LEED Gold Certification Mean?
Listed below are the standards that were met to achieve LEED Gold certification for College Center and the Health and Wellness Building:
Energy Conservation & Efficiency:
The Health and Wellness Building is 34% more energy efficient than required by the building code. Energy efficiency measures include high performance glazing, high efficiency cooling and heating systems, and the building envelope design and orientation. The building roof is surfaced with a cool roof membrane that eliminates heat gain and reduces urban, heat-island effects. Many of the same energy efficiency measures were used for College Center.
Materials and Resources:
- 96% of construction waste generated by both projects was diverted from landfill.
- 32% of the construction materials were manufactured from recycled content for the Health and Wellness Building and 40% of these materials were manufactured from recycled content for College Center.
- 11% of construction materials were manufactured locally for both projects.
- 75% of all new wood products are Forest Stewardship Council certified for the Health and Wellness Building and 65% of new wood products at College Center are also certified.
- The former Building 5/6 was demolished, yielding 11,430 tons of crushed concrete, which was reused as aggregate base to repave existing campus roads. The same process was utilized to repurpose the concrete building materials after demolition of former Buildings 10 and 11.
Indoor Air Quality
- Ventilation airflow volume exceeds standard ventilation requirements by over 30% on both projects.
- Low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials were selected throughout both projects, including carpets, casework and wood products, furniture materials, paints, adhesives and sealants
Water Conservation and Management
- Automatic flow sensors and efficient low-flow fixtures reduce water use by 46% for the Health and Wellness Building and nearly 49% for College Center.
- Centralized Irrigation systems and plant selections reduce irrigation water by 71% near the Health and Wellness Building and 58% near College Center.
- The U.S. Green Building Council awarded innovation points for water conservation design for the Health and Wellness Building.
Other College Sustainability Efforts
While it is nice to receive official recognition for our new building construction, we have done much more with respect to sustainability. Here are the highlights:
The entire campus has been re-graded and re-landscaped in order to improve ADA accessibility and reduce long-term maintenance costs. New plantings include low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants and trees. A new computerized “smart” irrigation system was installed, which only irrigates plants and trees when needed. The irrigation system is connected to a weather station on campus, allowing adjustment of irrigation rates based on actual wind and precipitation conditions, in real time.
Our football, baseball, and softball grass fields were replaced with synthetic turf, which substantially reduces maintenance and water consumption. Annual water savings associated with the synthetic turf fields is estimated at approximately 200,000 cubic feet of water.
Most of our existing buildings have been renovated. Energy efficient lighting and other building systems have replaced old, inefficient systems in these buildings. A computerized “smart” building management system (BMS) has been installed, which helps to reduce energy consumption for every building on the campus.
Parking Lot Lighting
Low emitting diode (LED) lights have been installed in most parking lots. These lights are more energy efficient, have a longer service life, require less maintenance, and provide focused illumination, which directs the light where it is needed while reducing light pollution.
The college installed a 560 kilowatt Co-Generation (Co-Gen) plant, which generates electricity on site. Heat produced as a by-product of the electrical generation is captured and used to heat the campus hot water loop, reducing the amount of natural gas normally required to heat the loop by approximately 25%. While the college stills receives most of its energy from the “grid,” the Co-Gen plant helps to reduce electricity supplied by the grid as well as natural gas consumption.
Storm Water Run-Off
New storm water infrastructure reduces the flow rate of storm water run-off and the associated erosion it can cause. Storm water is treated to minimize intrusion of pollutants into waterways before it is discharged off site.
College Recycling Efforts
With close to 10,000 students, CSM is very much like a small city—and even small cities generate a lot of waste. Our college took an early lead with regard to recycling efforts. Recycling facilities have been provided throughout the campus to promote recycling of beverage containers, cardboard, and office paper. Scrap metal is also recycled and ‘grasscycling’ of turf cuttings occurs on site.
Green Means More “Green”
Sustainability measures not only help to reduce our environmental footprint, they also yield long-term savings in utility and maintenance costs. Over the long-run, operating funds that would otherwise be used for utilities and maintenance costs can be redirected to support our core mission of educating students. Our Board of Trustees and our college district have been very careful to invest in sustainability measures that make both economic and environmental sense.
Our school colors are blue and white. However, given all of our sustainability efforts, we can now also proudly add the color green!