Article - Office of College Advancement

Ohlone College dedicates Newark's new 'green' building

By Todd R. Brown, Staff writer.

Friday, February 1, 2008—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

Andy Galvan performs Ohlone Indian ceremony.

NEWARK—NEARLY 300 people packed a chilly plastic tent Thursday at Ohlone College's Newark Center for an official dedication of the building, touted again and again for its "green" design and operation.

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi helped christen the campus, but the governor himself—an environmental advocate who wants to cut the state's greenhouse gas emissions a quarter by 2020—was absent.

"He is in Los Angeles, from what I understand, endorsing a guy who will not become president," said Garamendi, a Democrat, noting that he and the Republican governor are both pushing for public buildings to be sustainable.

Garamendi praised Ohlone as the leader in green building among California colleges but noted that other schools, such as Contra Costa College, are retrofitting with energy-efficient lighting and other sustainable options.

"Other campuses are doing it," he said. "We've just got to pick up the pace."

State Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, also attended and said the dedication was a cheery alternative on a gray day to depressing talk in Sacramento about the budget crisis and the mortgage meltdown.

"You're even going to teach the remediation of wetlands here," she said of a planned environmental studies degree at the new campus.

Plenty of the varied officials who spokeThursday celebrated the building's platinum LEED status, although few in the audience likely knew what the acronym stands for.

The premier designation n the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System basically means the structure is a model of sustainability.

To attendees such as Diana Perris, 24, of Castro Valley, that means they put recycled jeans in the walls for insulation.

"I just really like this campus," said Perris, who enrolled this semester in the nursing program at the Newark health sciences and technology campus. "Isn't it nice? It's really nice."

Gary Robinson of San Jose, a Niles Rotary member and owner of The Saddle Rack nightclub in Fremont, said the campus offers an exciting opportunity in the area, close to the Don Edwards wildlife refuge.

"I'm looking forward to my daughter going here," he said of Devin Robinson, 17, a student at Circle of Independent Learning Charter School in Fremont. "She's just always been very ecologically minded."

Marty Silveira, 44, of Newark started taking prerequisites for the nursing program a few years ago through Ohlone in Fremont, and began registered nurse classes this week at the new center.

"It's time for mom to finish her dreams," said Silveira, who decided to get a degree now that one of her sons is at Newark Memorial High School and the other is at San Francisco State University. "Since it's close to home, I don't have to drive to the top of the hill."

Ironically, she munched on McDonald's at the event, food from a firm that isn't exactly synonymous with sustainability.

"It was a close place," Silveira chuckled. "We had 30 minutes for lunch."

Of the new campus, she added: "It's a beautiful building. I'm proud to say that I'm a Newark resident."

Reach staff writer Todd R. Brown at 510-353-7004 or todd.brown@bayareanewsgroup.com.

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