The Ripple Effect
Green building packs Monterey County’s calendar.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
As green building sweeps the country, local schools, businesses and organizations are taking advantage.
Last June, Hartnell College launched its Center for Sustainable Construction, a training program in ecological building.
In December, California State University Monterey Bay cut the ribbon on its new LEED-certifiable library, in keeping with the university’s commitment to construct all new buildings to LEED silver standards. In February the campus held a climate change teach-in, part of its pledge to teach sustainability as a signatory (along with the Monterey Institute of International Studies) to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.
Meanwhile, Monterey College of Law is embarking on what Dean Mitchel Winick believes is the country’s first LEED-platinum remodel of an abandoned military building. The $2.5 million, 6,000-square-foot Community Justice Center is designed entirely by Monterey Bay area professionals, including Joe Piedmonte of Ausonio Inc. and Monterey-based architect Daryl Hawkins. “People assume you can’t remodel these old buildings to these standards,” Winick says. “We hope to prove that assumption wrong.”
This spring, Monterey Peninsula College is offering a class in green building design, led by EcoLogic Design Lab co-founders Nik Spitz and Thomas Rettenwender. The two collaborators take an almost spiritual approach to green construction: They advise smelling the earth, feeling the direction of the sun and asking permission from trees before building.
Meanwhile, the Monterey Peninsula is hosting a steady stream of conferences related to green building. In December, it was the Green Building Expo, co-sponsored by local cities, the Monterey Bay chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Monterey County Business Council and the U.S. Green Building Council. In January, Seaside hosted the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments conference on green business innovation. In February, the USGBC held its LEED 2009 update workshop in Moss Landing. Even the International Council of Shopping Centers will be on board during its Monterey-based idea exchange in March, with a workshop on “Green Development: The New Reality.”
As recently as August 2007, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories was the only LEED-certified building in the county, with a gold rating. Now there are two more: the Trader Joe’s shopping center in Monterey, with a silver rating; and Chartwell School in Seaside, with the ultimate platinum. Fifteen more local buildings are registered for LEED certification.
Job training is keeping pace with the boom. As of mid-January, Monterey County has 38 LEED-accredited professionals, nearly half of them in Monterey. The city of Seaside’s planning department has trained three staff members to Build It Green standards, and the city of Monterey maintains a Green Building Program to help residents meet its new mandates. In late January, the state Employment Training Panel dedicated $1.2 million to train more journey-level workers in sustainable construction.