Palomar College Maintenance and Operations Buildings
San Marcos, Calif.
Owner: Palomar Community College District
Lead Design Firm: BNIM
General Contractor: Level 10 Construction
Civil Engineer: SWS Engineering Inc.
Structural Engineer: BWE
MEP Engineer: Syska Hennessy Group
Palomar College’s Maintenance and Operations Buildings are teaching lessons in sustainability.
As the college’s second design-build project, it has the potential to become its first LEED Platinum/net-zero energy facility. Its 344 solar panels will provide 105% of the buildings’ total energy usage.
In addition to being net-zero ready, the project is pursuing Petal Certification under the Living Building Challenge to be the first Petal Certified community college in the world. This certification exceeds LEED Platinum qualifications.
“The sustainable design features incorporated into this building are impressive and contributed to a high level of design and aesthetics,” wrote the judges.
The complex, which serves the grounds and maintenance division across the entire 252-acre campus, gathers together facilities previously scattered in eight different structures into two new buildings totaling 30,000 sq ft. One building is for department use and the other houses multiple departments, including warehousing, MEP, welding, custodial, painting and maintenance.
To create such a sustainable project, the design-build team used a CAD and 3D modeling application software for energy modeling, photovoltaic panel design and daylight modeling. With the software, the contractor was able to accurately capture costs at each design milestone, bringing in subcontractors early during design for efficiencies in details and sequence. This helped the project stay within budget.
Another design highlight was an effort to reduce the size of the HVAC system through the use of passive ventilation, which includes the use of solar chimneys, automated windows/dampers and fans. The buildings were also designed for 50% water savings through rain harvesting, native planting and high-efficiency plumbing fixtures. The entire office space is daylit with access to natural ventilation, which has the potential to lower the cooling load by 85%.
While designed for back-of-house purposes, the building is not hidden on campus like other facilities structures. It is located at a highly visible campus gateway, surrounded by landscape that celebrates Palomar College’s collection of rare and unique plant species from around the world.