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Sierra College: Greenest building in Truckee?

Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunThe new Sierra College building is applying for Silver L.E.E.D. certification. Sustainable construction techniques such as sorting waste and sealing unfinished duct work help earn points toward certification.
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If the designers of the new Sierra College have their way, the campus will feature the greenest building in Truckee.

“I do think this building will be the highest level [of LEED certification] in the town,” said Senior Associate Wesley Ploof of Beaudin Ganze Consulting Engineers.

An engineer on the new Sierra College Building Project, Ploof said designers and construction crews are following the U.S. Green Building Council’s strict guidelines called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED.



The green building standards give builders four tiers of certification to strive for: certified, silver, gold and platinum. Ploof is confident the Sierra College project will achieve silver, which requires 33 to 38 points out of possible 69 points.

This year in neighboring Incline Village, Sierra Nevada College’s new Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences building was the first building in that state to earn platinum certification, and one of only 26 facilities in the world to have earned the highest tier possible for energy ” and environmental ” design excellence under the LEED program for new construction.



Sierra College would love to have gone gold, said Dean Rick Rantz, but financial resources were just not there. The public college district must achieve a balance between the required capital and the design vision, he said.

Regardless of which standard the construction achieves, the college will teach green precepts in its curriculum.

Educators at the two-year college are now organizing the Sierra College Institute for Sustainability, according to Rantz. Planning is in the early stages, and Rantz could not say what classes would be offered in.

“It is a reflection of the community that we live in,” Rantz said of the Institute. “Truckee is becoming such a green town that it makes sense for the school to offer courses that focus on [sustainability].”

At the national level, environmentally friendly construction has received a presidential spotlight. Former President Bill Clinton opened talks Wednesday at the U.S. Green Building Council’s three-day conference on sustainable building, Green Build, said Terry Calhoun, director of media relations and publications with the Society for College and University Planning.

“[Truckee] will get a building that over time will cost less money to run,” Calhoun said.

The savings are important because educational institutions own their buildings, so the reduced energy costs can be significant over a prolonged period.

“The reduced operating costs usually pay for the extra time for additional effort in [green] building,” Ploof said.

When completed in January 2009, the Sierra College campus will be 28,000 square feet and include 14 classrooms.


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