County Operations Center So Green, It’s Gold

The two new 150,000-square-foot office buildings at the County Operations Center were recently awarded LEED Gold certification, making them the latest County structures to be recognized under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy Design rating system for sustainable building.

The four-story buildings where about 1,100 County employees work boast numerous green features.

Instead of depending solely on electrical lighting, the buildings have large windows that flood the workspace with natural light. Energy-efficient roofing reflects the sun, reducing the need for air conditioning. The buildings’ parking garage hosts the largest solar-electric array on County property. The San Diego Gas & Electric-owned system supplies the community with about 627,216 kilowatt-hours of clean energy each year, enough to power about 103 single-family homes in the region.

The buildings are designed to conserve water as well as energy. The plumbing system uses about 40 percent less water than most similar office buildings would. Outside, drought resistant plants and a drip irrigation system conserve water too.

The project also recycled 90 percent of its construction debris.

The next phase of the County Operations Center, with two more 150,000-square-foot office buildings and a 15,000-square-foot conference planned, are also designed to meet LEED Gold certification.

These days, when the County plans a new building, conserving natural resources is as much a part of the design as windows and walls.  

Indeed, the County’s 2009 Strategic Energy Plan requires every new County building be designed to meet LEED certification standards.

The new Fallbrook Library is expected to be awarded LEED Silver, while the Ramona Library is expected to become the first library in the region to meet LEED Gold requirements. The San Elijo Nature Center, whose sustainable touches include recycled blue jeans for insulation, is one of only two LEED Platinum buildings in the region.