Article - Office of College Advancement

Green campus will train tech, biotech workers

By Elizabeth Browne.

Friday, June 29, 2007—Reprinted from San Francisco Business Times.

Ohlone College is looking to the future with a new green campus in Newark that will prepare students for jobs in the burgeoning health, biotech and environmental technology industries.

The Ohlone College Newark Center for Health Sciences and Technology will be completed in December of this year, and could be certified at the LEED platinum level—the highest U.S. Green Building Council certification for sustainable construction and design.

Construction costs will run $57 million. The total project cost, including the land, legal, construction, furniture and consulting fees for members of the project team, is $118 million.

Ohlone is building the first green community college campus in the United States, says Treadway. Photo by Douglas Zimmerman.

The 135,000-square-foot campus is under construction on 80 acres on Newark's Cherry Street, not far from the bay's salt ponds, and will be in addition to the college's main campus in Fremont. When the project is complete, the Newark Center will serve 3,500 students attending day and evening courses. Ohlone now rents classroom space in Newark public schools for evening classes.

Ohlone College President Douglas Treadway said the Newark Center, in addition to being the first green college campus in the nation, will be the first community college campus in the state to have a "thematic emphasis."

"We wanted to build a more specific campus in the Bay Area that would support the growing fields of health care, biotech and environmental technology," he said.

To that end, the campus will house Ohlone's existing programs in nursing and physical therapy, for example, but will also offer courses relating to renewable energy, Treadway said.

Ohlone has begun working with the newly formed industry association SolarTech, as well as with other local community colleges, to help develop a curriculum that would train students for jobs in the solar industry.

The building itself is inspiring changes to the college's curriculum. It employs three different alternative energy systems, and a long list of other green features, from recycled blue jeans for insulation to sustainably produced furniture.

But the energy features are where Ohlone expects to score extra points in its LEED application.

To heat and cool the campus, Ohlone is installing an "enthalpy wheel" to handle intake and exhaust air, and 26 miles of underground piping. The piping is part of a geothermal system that extracts heated air from the building, transfers it to the ground, where it takes advantage of the site's fairly constant ground temperature, and then returns cooled air to the building. The college says the geothermal system will result in a 25 percent improvement in energy performance.

The Newark campus also will employ some 38,000 square feet of solar panels from Berkeley's PowerLight Corp. that Treadway said will provide energy savings the equivalent to taking 1,000 cars off Bay Area freeways every day.

While the cost of the solar panels is $4 million, according to Karen Cribbins-Kuklin, project managing principal at architecture firm Perkins + Will, the geothermal system is less costly than traditional systems. Treadway said the effects of the alternative energy features could reduce the campus' utility bills by as much as $400,000 to $500,000 a year.

Public bond Measure A, passed in 2002, raised $110 million toward the building of the campus. Treadway said he was seeking an additional $8 million to $10 million from private sources.

"The estimate at the beginning was about a 5 percent premium to go green. We think it's actually going to be 2 percent to 3 percent," he said, citing the rising costs of traditional construction materials since the work on the project began. The fact that the campus uses green and primarily local materials has kept Ohlone's construction costs relatively stable, he said.

"Going green is not only environmentally responsible, it's actually good business," he said. "We can make green by going green."

ebrowne@bizjournals.com / (415) 288-4949

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