The Foothill Gold Line light rail project held a press conference today to show off some of the impressive sustainable features associated with its new $265-million Operations Campus, located in Monrovia, CA, beside the 210 Freeway, about 13 miles northeast of Downtown Los Angeles.

The 24-acre Operations Campus is part of the six-station, 11.5-mile Foothill Gold Line light rail project from Pasadena to Azusa, currently heading for a September 2015 completion. The full-service, state-of-the-art facility will house up to 84 light rail vehicles and nearly 200 employees over several shifts a day. The facility is currently about 90 percent complete.

The Operations Campus, designed by Parsons, is one of the only of its kind to be designed and built to meet LEED Gold certification requirements, says the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority, the entity overseeing construction of the roughly $750 million Gold Line project.

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Architect Roland Genick discusses sustainable features at new Gold Line Operations Campus 

Roland Genick, chief architect for Rail & Transit Systems for Parsons, says when they began the design, the desire was to shoot for LEED Silver, "which is very difficult to do for a facility of this specificity." But when they got into it, he says the Construction Authority "challenged" the team to aim for LEED Gold.

"We wanted the sustainability aspects of the project to be the critical drivers of the configuration and design of the buildings," says Genick.  "It's an interesting project type in that so much of it is influenced by what's happening on the campus. You don't do maintenance and operations facilities all that often, so it's interesting to take the function of the overall site and let that drive the design."

Genick told me that architectural design is not typically in a prominent position on maintenance facilities like this. He said the trick was to "find a balance where we make a lot of what's going on here legible, but at the same time, have an architectural aesthetic that makes it look like a building and not just a collection of utilitarian structures"

Highlights of the project's sustainable design include:

  • An on-site, 714-panel, 178.5-kilowatt solar panel array that will generate enough electricity to meet one-third of power needs of the 132,000 sq- ft main shop building. If not immediately used on-site, the electricity generated by the solar panel array will be made available to the local electric grid.
  • Water-reduction measures such as high efficiency fixtures and infrared sensor faucets that help achieve a 35% water reduction level. Smart sprinkler technology, and planting of a variety of drought-tolerant plants, will reduce landscape water consumption at the campus by 50%. And a large carwash facility, with average usage of 60,000 gallons of water a day, that will only use recycled, reclaimed water.
  • A specialized storm water management system at the Gold Line Operations Campus designed to capture 100% of storm water and infiltrate it into the groundwater aquifers below.
  • Recycled materials make up nearly 50% of the material used on the campus.