Riches upon Riches

Image courtesy Bruce Heimbach
December 4, 2012 | 4:01pm

A platinum certificate now tops the treasure chest of awards for the County Operations Center (COC) in Kearny Mesa.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED certificate was presented to Board of Supervisors Chairman Ron Roberts by U.S. Green Building Council representative Beth Brummitt during the Board meeting Tuesday. The platinum LEED certification recognizes the County Operations Center conference center and café and marks the second platinum won by the County. The first was awarded to the Encinitas San Elijo Lagoon Visitor’s Center in 2009.

The COC campus now boasts a LEED silver, four LEED golds and a LEED platinum. Two four-story, steel-frame office buildings won two golds in 2010. A silver was awarded to the Medical Examiner and Forensic Center in 2011 and two additional office buildings won golds after their opening last summer. The platinum was awarded to what is appropriately enough the crown jewel of the 47-acre site, the 15,000 square-foot conference center and café known as the Commons.

The conference room features solar tubes with baffles that open and close for audio visual presentations but otherwise provide abundant natural light. Diners can enjoy seating in the new cafeteria or head up to an open air deck on the second floor topped with a shade canopy of translucent photovoltaic panels in one area and a garden roof over another.

Brummitt pointed out the the new campus buildings resulted in a:

  • 56 percent reduction of indoor potable water use
  • 40 percent reduction in annual energy costs
  • 90 percent diversion of construction waste from the landfill

Previously, the Operations Center was a collection of old buildings that was put together in a piece-meal fashion without regard to master planning. Chairman Roberts says the new campus buildings were designed to work together to maximize efficiency.

“This (platinum certification) is like the holy grail of environmental efficiency as far as buildings go. It’s very rare, the second one for the County”, said Chairman Ron Roberts. “What it really means is that we’re building differently, for the future and not for the moment.”

The COC campus houses more than 2,800 employees in 21 departments together at one location. Last October, the San Diego Architectural Foundation announced the COC had won a 2012 People’s Choice Orchid Award for architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, and sustainable design. The COC has also been recognized with an Energy All-Star Award for Outstanding Governmental Building Project from the California Center for Sustainable Energy and an Energy Showcase Award for New Construction/Sustainability from SDG&E.