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Wastewater Engineers Attain First and Largest LEED Platinum Public Facility

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In 2002, the Inland Empire Utility Agency (IEUA) – a municipal water agency in western San Bernardino County – designed and constructed its new Headquarters with the goal of attaining the first 2.0 platinum level “LEED” – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – a rating established by the U. S. Green Building Council. IEUA more than succeeded.

The economic benefits reaped by the Agency and local taxpayers is in the millions of dollars and the total cost per square foot for the entire project is lower than standard industry building costs of up to $294/s.f. at $160/s.f. (2002 dollars). Energy consumption is estimated around 4–6 average Southern California homes. Foreign dignitaries, State and Federal politicians, and tens of hundreds of various professionals have toured this site. With over eight site and source stormwater BMPs, the grounds and parking lot serve as a regional BMP demonstration site where local cities send their developers, contractors, and consultants to walk around, take notes, and observe. It is a one-stop shop for stormwater BMPs and is an example that can be replicated in other places.

While the U.S. Green Building Council was primarily established by architects, IEUA's Headquarters is a prime example of how cross pollination of ideas from different professions saves money. In this example, when the challenge was given to engineers at the preliminary design level, the economic analysis training that is standard for wastewater engineering projects, provided the appropriate data and information for well thought out decision making. Lifecycle analysis and payback calculations for this building were completed under the direction of engineers and construction managers who were experienced in wastewater treatment plant designs and construction and were not architects or engineers for buildings or development.

This paper highlights the potential benefits that public agencies can attain when cross pollination of professions are encouraged as well as when upper management is receptive to new approaches. IEUA's new Headquarters is California's premier example of what a smart building design can achieve for the environment while saving significant tax payer dollars. IEUA is actively working to share the lessons learned from this outstanding project and to showcase how a well-designed “green building” will attain sustainable economic and environmental benefits for decades to come. In addition, the internal obstacles that were overcome are discussed, lessons learned, and recommendations for others.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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