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Green building detractors often point to the lack of hard numbers on how green buildings actually perform in the real world.  As time goes on we'll have a better information as to how all LEED Platinum buildings perform, but for now, we have this success story.  Ohlone College's Newark Center for Health Sciences and Technology is celebrating a year of energy conservation and has the numbers to back it up.  The 128,000 square-foot facility was completed in early 2008, and received LEED Platinum in August of 2008.  It's the first community college to receive such a high certification, and after operating for one year, here's what the numbers tell us:

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  • Solar panels generated enough energy to power the equivalent of 123 homes;
  • There was a 69% reduction in purchased electricity and 72% reduction in natural gas consumption compared to a similar facility designed to meet California's Title 24 code;
  • Combined energy costs totaled $63,052, or $0.48 per square foot per year, which translates into a savings of more than $130,000 compared to a similar building built to meet Title 24; and
  • Most impressively, the building had net zero energy consumption from April – August 2008, which took the campus off of the electrical grid while the college actually sold electricity back to the utility.

The facility was designed by Perkins + Will (with the close assistance of Alfa Tech Engineers) as a learning tool for students.  At the Center for Health Sciences and Technology, students study earth sciences, biotechnology, emerging technology, and health sciences. 

The lobby features the enthalpy wheels behind windows in the lobby with animated readouts that show the real time energy recovery.  Also, the geothermal system displays water temperatures as it moves through the system, showing the exchange process and how much energy is saved. 


Photo Credits: Perkins + Will.