LEEDing the way: Sierra College’s Tahoe-Truckee campus earns top eco certification | SierraSun.com

LEEDing the way: Sierra College’s Tahoe-Truckee campus earns top eco certification

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun
Courtesy Photo - Sierra CollegeA look at the newest LEED gold certified building, the first of its kind at a community college in the state.

TRUCKEE and#8212; Sierra College’s Tahoe-Truckee campus has set a new California benchmark in green architecture.

Last month, the community college’s newest facility was certified by the US Green Building Council as the first community college facility in the state to be given a Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating.

The gold rating is the second-highest rating awarded to energy-efficient and environmentally friendly buildings, behind platinum. It is also a rating that is recognized, not only in the US, but internationally as well.

and#8220;When we heard the news that we had been given a gold rating we were ecstatic. Initially we were planning for silver certification and we got gold,and#8221; said Kim Bateman, Dean of the Tahoe-Truckee Campus.

She said the high rating is a result of low output of material waste created during the building’s construction process. Bateman credits the decision to create the 28,500 square foot facility to community involvement and the region’s eco-friendly atmosphere.

and#8220;Moving in this direction was not just only about creating quality architecture, but was more about how well it fit into Tahoe’s environmentally friendly culture,and#8221; Bateman said.

Within the new facility, which will be used for science, art, lecture classrooms and administrative offices, is an array of energy efficient technology, according to a Sierra College press release. In the summer, when temperatures begin to soar, the building regulate itself, using outside air and evaporation coolers to reduce air-conditioning energy by 70 percent.

Water usage will also be cut, dropping 40 percent through the addition of dual-flush toilets and efficient interior fixtures. Components for a future solar-thermal heating system have been placed within the structure as well, according to the press release.

On top of these lofty improvements are the facilities smart classrooms, which automatically regulate lighting and temperature according to the number of students and the amount of daylight outside.

and#8220;Truckee is a community whose culture is at the forefront of sustainability and environmental consciousness,and#8221; said Laura Doty, Sierra College’s director of facilities and construction out of the college’s Rocklin branch. and#8220;Sierra College was therefore committed to developing our Tahoe-Truckee Campus to reflect this culture.and#8221;

Bateman said the building, designed by Lionakis Architects and constructed by Rudolph and Sletten, cost about 50 to 60 percent more than a basic facility would; however, Bateman said, in the long term, the decision might be very cost-effective, not only in energy, but also in enrollment.

Bateman said she and the 40 faculty members who work at the Tahoe-Truckee campus appreciate the new work environment. One aspect she said she enjoys most is the on-site showers for those who wish to bike to work.

and#8220;It’s pretty striking once you get inside,and#8221; she said.