Article - Office of College Advancement

As green as it gets: Community college campus opens in Bay Area

Green School & University (original article), February 14, 2008.

Ohlone College in Fremont, Calif., has expanded with a new environmentally friendly campus in Newark.

The community college began offering classes last month at the Ohlone College Newark Center for Health Sciences and Technology. The school says the new facility has been designed to receive a LEED Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Among the building's features:

  • Solar energy from more than 1,500 photovoltaic panels on the building's roof will provide about 42 percent of the facility's energy needs.
  • A geothermal heating and cooling system with coils buried throughout a four-acre area provides energy more efficiently and reduces reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Enthalpy wheels have been installed to maximize the use of outdoor air brought inside the building to improve indoor air quality. The wheels also recapture the energy from the exhausted air, lowering the amount of energy needed to re-heat or re-cool the incoming air.
  • Water conservation measures include storm-water filtering, wetlands restoration, and indoor water-saving fixtures.
  • The campus landscaping, which includes drought-resistant, native plantings, follows Bay Friendly Landscaping practices. Those standards are designed to "support the integrity … of the San Francisco Bay watershed," according to, a partnership of the Alameda County Waste Management Authority and the Alameda County Source Reduction and Recycling Board.
  • The insulation in the walls consists of recycled blue jeans.
  • The building's wood doors and cabinetry are made from machiche, a Guatemala hardwood. It is harvested under standards set by the Forestry Stewardship Council that reduce deforestation, and protect watersheds and wetlands.
  • The building site reclaims a brownfield site. The EPA awarded a $200,000 cleanup grant in 2004 that enabled the community college to clean up 31 acres in Newark that had been contaminated with the pesticide toxaphene.
  • The paint, carpeting and furnishings used in the building consist of low-emission materials.
  • Between 50 percent and 75 percent of the waste generated by construction was recycled.

To emphasize its commitment to environmentally sensitive practices, the college's board of trustees has adopted four principles of sustainability: conserving natural resources and avoiding negative long-term environmental effects; maximizing environmental quality, use of renewable resources, energy efficiency and energy use; facilitating use of alternative forms of transportation, fuels and systems; and designing all major new buildings and renovation projects to meet nationally recognized standards for environmental design.

The 135,000-square-foot Newark facility can accommodate 3,500 students. Additional phases have been planned to allow for increased enrollment. The designer of the project is Perkins+Will, and the builder is Turner Construction.

[ View Articles Index. ]

Related Links at Ohlone College