The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority announced this week that the main shop at its Operations Campus in Monrovia, CA, was awarded LEED Gold Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The 132,000 sq-ft building is the first of its kind to receive the distinction, says project officials.

“We challenged ourselves to look for ways to reduce the environmental footprint of the facility…," said Habib F. Balian, CEO of the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority in a recent press release. “We’ve shown that it is feasible to incorporate sustainability features into a facility of this magnitude without significantly impacting the construction budget and schedule. Our hope is that this will be a model for other, similar facilities.”

While sustainability measures were incorporated throughout the 24-acre maintenance and operations facility, only those associated with the main shop building were factored into the certification award by the USGBC. The three-story main building houses offices and training facilities for 200 employees, a yard control room to manage all train activities on the campus, and repair and maintenance shops to service up to 84 light rail vehicles.

The $265-million Operations Campus opened last April beside the 210 Freeway in Monrovia, about 13 miles northeast of Downtown Los Angeles. Designed by Parsons, it is one of the only of its kind to be designed and built to meet LEED Gold certification requirements.

Roland Genick, chief architect for Rail & Transit Systems for Parsons, told me last year that 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.

Using the following sustainability features, the building was able to garner LEED Gold and achieve 35% water usage reduction and 32.5% energy performance improvement, as compared to typical buildings of its kind:

• An on-site 714-panel, 178.5-kilowatt solar panel array that generates nearly a third of the energy needs of the main shop building, with excess energy made available to the local grid
• Solar-tracking skylights that move with the sun to maximize use of natural light
• Sensors that detect human motion as well as the level of natural light available and adjust the high-efficiency LED lighting for actual need
• High-efficiency fixtures and infrared water faucets that dispense less water

Additional sustainability features incorporated into the overall 24-acre facility that went above and beyond those needed to achieve LEED Gold Certification include:

• A comprehensive stormwater management system that captures 100% of rainfall; filtering and infiltrating the first 112,000 gallons during any rain event into the groundwater aquifers below
• Use of only recycled, reclaimed water for the carwash, which averages 60,000 gallons of water use daily
• Smart sprinkler technology and the planting of a drought-tolerant plants that reduce landscape water consumption by 50%
• Use of recycled materials for half of the building materials used on site; and locally sourcing all of the track ballast, aggregate and concrete to reduce the environmental impact of transporting them to the site

The Foothill Gold Line is a $2 billion, 12-station extension of the Metro Gold Line light rail system. The Operations Campus is part of the six-station Phase 2 Pasadena to Azusa segment, which opened to the riding public last month.