When the Center for the Arts officially opened in January, President Rocha stated that it would “transform the landscape of the PCC campus and ultimately transform the lives of our students.”

The third floor windows of the Center of the Arts Building designed to reduce the amount of artifical light, and therefore the amount of energy needed for the classrooms on Wednesday March 26, 2014. (Andrew French/Courier)
The third floor windows of the Center of the Arts Building designed to reduce the amount of artifical light, and therefore the amount of energy needed for the classrooms on Wednesday March 26, 2014. (Andrew French/Courier)

By designing a building that is well on its way to being certified as a premier example of sustainability and energy efficiency, the center is on the road to achieving the message of those words.

To prove its seriousness in providing a center that was innovative both artistically and environmentally, the school was determined to go above and beyond the mandated building codes and become an LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, certified building.

Those buildings that have been LEED certified have been recognized as “best-in-class building strategies and practices,” and have truly transformed the way projects are approached, according to the U.S Green Building Council.

“Obtaining LEED is important because it is a standardized system of measuring sustainability that the industry has supported and embraced,“ stated Gail Bouvrie, the design director at AC Martin who worked on the project.

LEED has a number of different of categories that need to be addressed for certification so a building can move up to the next level. As a building moves up, that means its energy savings gets to be that much greater and becomes more sophisticated, said Bouvrie.

The architects took a holistic approach while keeping LEED certification in mind as they “look for synergies across different disciplines when designing a building in order to maximize sustainability,” Bouvrie stated in an email.

Not only is the Center of the Arts LEED certified, it has the potential to receive the highest certification of Gold in the very near future. While chances are good that the building already has enough to secure the Silver level of certification, project manager Stephanie Pulcifer believes there are enough points to move up in level but said that it’s a matter of waiting for the evaluation and paperwork to go through until the building is Gold certified.

“Being sustainable sets a model to emulate. We’re not just talking the talk, we’re walking the walk,” Pulcifer said.

The team surrounding the project became committed to achieving LEED certification as it was important ethically and supported the school’s message of achieving sustainability.

“As we went along, everyone become so invested in the project we all tried to find whatever way we could to achieve more points for a higher goal other than just plan certification,” she said.

That dedication to energy efficiency and sustainability is evident in the thought process that went into choosing materials and energy saving systems that is currently in place. For example, the carpet used in one of the new theaters is made of recycled material that will be reused.

“Saving material is good, not just because it saves money, but there is embedded energy within products to fabricate those products and also to transport them to site,” Bouvrie said.

A lot of the focus was also placed on using the environment around the center in an effort to reduce cost. The position of the building itself was meant to capture as much natural sunlight as possible to reduce the amount of artificial light. In addition, the furniture in the Little Theater was provided locally and the school tried to solicit funds from the community, said Pulcifer. There were also a number of measures to ensure that the building does not use any more water or energy than is needed. Many rooms have censor-operated lights that only turn on when there are people present in the room. The watering system also a sensor that only uses water when the moisture content of the ground is low. Solar powered trashcans can also compact garbage as it goes and sends a signal when it’s full.

“Ecologically sustainable buildings make our campus a leader in addressing global climate change, which is a issue that affects students today and in the future,” said Sarah Belknap, the Associated Students vice president for sustainability.

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