New L building greener and better than ever

Brooke Lintag

San Diego City College’s L Building went green during its recent renovation in an effort to be a model institution for the community.

The Capital Construction Bond for renovation, passed in 2002, allowed San Diego City College President Terrence Burgess and staff to begin plans for the reconstruction of the then vacated L Building. From the beginning, there were multiple conversations about whether or not the school should opt to go green with the new project.

By the time that construction had started in 2008, they had made a decision.
“It was a question of being cost effective versus being sustainable,” Burgess said. “Going green was marginally more expensive, but we wanted to be a good example for the public.”

The building possesses a number of green features, one of which includes the Heating, Ventilating and Air- Conditioning (HVAC) System, which is highly energy efficient. A thermal-setting powder coat finish was also applied to the outside windows in order to optimize temperature control in the building. The paint used on the building itself was also environmentally safe, emitting low fumes into the air.

In the interior of the building, a material called Enviro SLAB terrazzo was used for all countertops and backsplashes. The terrazzo, a faux-marble material, is made 100 percent from recycled glass, designed to be cleaned with environmentally safe cleaners. Also, in the restrooms, waterless urinals and electric hand dryers were installed in order to lower the waste of resources.

The architectural design of the building itself loans a helping hand to going green. By utilizing and creating plenty of shade air conditioning won’t be as needed.
Also, as a Proposition S and N project, the contractors were required to recycle at least 75 percent of construction waste and debris.

“We’ve had several projects running in the upper 80s and even 90s, percentage-wise, and I suspect this one may be right up there,” Ursula Kroemer of Gafcon Inc., the Proposition S and N program manager for the project, said.

The L Building has made such a great attempt to go green that the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System has awarded it LEED Silver certification. There are 4 certification levels: certified, silver, gold and platinum. A building is awarded certification depending on it’s level of sustainability.

“[It is] to set a good example for students in the community for living sustainable lives,” said Burgess.

In fact, due to the Green Building Policy passed by the San Diego Community College District, all new construction and major renovation to buildings in the district must qualify for a minimum of LEED Silver.
The Business Technology building that is currently under construction on campus is anticipated to be LEED Platinum.

Students and staff alike have a positive response to the school’s decision to go green.

“[It] sounds great,” Amira Sheikh, tutor for the MESA Program located in the L Building, said. “Nowadays the environment is becoming important; knowing that City [College] is providing so many possibilities is great.”

“It’s very nice,” Mariana Vanyan, an accounting and business student, said. “They’re supporting the environment and helping out the land.”