San Diego Business Journal

‘A Beacon of Sustainability’: SDG&E Center Gets Top LEED Designation

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

San Diego Gas & Electric Co.’s Energy Innovation Center in Clairemont has received the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest building sustainability rating with a recent Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum certification award.

The U.S. Green Building Council is a nonprofit organization committed to a sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. In order for commercial buildings to earn LEED certification, a project must satisfy all LEED prerequisites and earn a minimum 40 points on a 110-point LEED rating system scale.

“SDG&E’s Energy Innovation Center has raised the bar for our leadership class of high-performing green buildings in San Diego,” said Douglas Kot, executive director of the San Diego Green Building Council. “Perhaps, more importantly, the center has also transformed an underutilized neighborhood center into a beacon of sustainability.”

The Energy Innovation Center at 4760 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. is a showcase facility where residential and business customers can learn about energy efficiency, alternative fuel transportation and clean generation. Construction on an existing 27,000-square-foot building began in late 2010 with the intent of showcasing examples of highly efficient lighting, heating-ventilation-air conditioning units, and leading technologies to demonstrate the choices available for businesses and design professionals to incorporate into their buildings. Features include a full commercial food service demonstration kitchen with more than 40 energy-efficient appliances; smart home experience tours; sustainability tours; interactive kiosks and resource library; water-wise walkway with drought-tolerant landscape demonstrations; and a produce demonstration garden.

Additional elements of the center include:

• Six sun-tracking solar “trees” in the parking lot provide shade and generate 62 kilowatts of electricity. Combined with the solar panels on the roof, the system provides enough electricity to power 31 homes.

• The “cool roof” reflects the sun’s rays and keeps the center cooler than a conventional roof, which helps reduce the demand on the center’s air conditioning. The roof also has a rainwater collection unit that stores water used for the center’s irrigation system.

• The landscape features drought resistant landscaping and efficient irrigation technology, resulting in a 50 percent water savings compared to a conventional design.

• Some 85 percent of the original building’s materials were reused or recycled, including the carpet which is made from recycled tires.

• More than 10 percent of the materials used to construct the building were harvested, manufactured and processed within 500 miles of the center’s site, reducing the environmental impacts associated with transportation and shipping building materials.

Pam Fair, vice president of environmental, operations support and chief environmental officer for SDG&E, said earning LEED Platinum certification is a significant milestone for the company.

“Since its unveiling earlier this year, this facility has been a valuable resource for the community and is demonstrating ways that we all can move toward a more sustainable energy future,” Fair said.

— SDBJ Staff Report