The Coast News Group

Civic Center gets energy efficiency award

ENCINITAS — The city of Encinitas’ Civic Center, 505 S. Vulcan Ave. has become one of the first municipal centers in Southern California to earn the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification. USGBC officials will present the LEED plaque to the City Council at the Sept. 12 meeting.

Public Works Management Analyst Bill Wilson displays a mini “This is all the trash I make” desktop receptacle that can be found at the newly finished Encinitas Civic Center. Courtesy photo
According to Public Works Management Analyst Bill Wilson, who has helped shepherd the multi-year, multi-faceted application process, the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance rating system represents the gold standard of environmental operating practices.

He said, “LEED is all-encompassing. A wide range of criteria are considered, from energy and water conservation to environmental purchasing and cleaning policies to waste reduction strategies.”

The city started the process at the top, when it replaced the Civic Center’s aging 49,000-square-foot roof and air conditioning system in late 2008. These improvements have resulted in a 35-percent reduction in energy consumption and saved the city approximately $35,000 per year. Integrated into the redesign is a solar photovoltaic (PV) system, a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) modification, enhanced building automation and a 120-ton, water cooled central plant that includes a chiller, cooling tower and related accoutrements. The system makes chilled water and ice at night when electrical rates are much lower. The stored ice is used during the daytime to cool the building.

In addition to enabling the city to reduce its environmental footprint while helping it earn LEED certification, the rooftop changes add to the beauty of Encinitas. The cool roof greatly enhances the panoramic downtown and ocean view from the Library, which used to be marred by rooftop air conditioning units and other clutter. Additional enhancements constructed at the same time include skylights that provide natural lighting and an airy ambiance indoors. The result, Wilson said, is “a better view, inside and out.”

Energy conservation is one important facet of LEED criteria. So is water conservation, which the city pursued by installing ultra-low-flow fixtures in restrooms, along with high-efficiency hand dryers that eliminate the need for paper towels.

Encinitas City officials and staff have adhered to environmental guidelines with enthusiasm, Wilson said. “We’ve gone paperless whenever possible. City Council agendas are electronic. We communicate via e-mail and other e-tools. When we must print a document, our printers default to two-sided printing.”

To remind employees to reduce, reuse and recycle, tiny “This is all the trash I make” desktop receptacles are found throughout city offices.

An array of other environmentally friendly elements, such as parking lot LED lighting, contributes to the overall focus on environmental stewardship. In addition to the ongoing energy and water-cost savings are the longer-term savings resulting from the increased longevity and decreased maintenance needs of structure and equipment.

The LEED-seeking process will be interwoven into construction of new Fire Station No. 2 at 618 Birmingham Drive. For more information on LEED, visit