Law School LEEDers
Monterey College of Law presents its ultra-green Community Justice Center.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Monterey College of Law's new Commmunity Justice Center could stand up to any green builder's cross-examination.
The 6,000-square-foot building is certified LEED Platinum, the most rigorous sustainable construction standard set by the U.S. Green Building Council, and includes two courtrooms, eight mediation rooms (five of them outdoors), and offices of the school's conflict management center and the Monterey County Bar Association.
Green features include solar panels, low-flow water fixtures, high-efficiency electronics, bamboo floors, and passive solar such as skylights. And the new building is dressed up with lots of recycled stuff - carpet, bathroom tiles (from auto glass), furniture, file cabinets, computers and even leather judges' chairs among them.
When the Santa Cruz Superior Court opened its new courthouse in 2008, the law school took the opportunity to raid the 1950s-era Watsonville courthouse for salvage materials, including the judge's bench, jury box, counsel tables and mahogany paneling.
Monterey College of Law was founded in 1972, but in 2005 moved from downtown Monterey into a retrofitted 12,000-square-foot building on the former Fort Ord in Seaside. The new building expands the school's space by 50 percent.
The center is the county's first LEED project designed and constructed entirely by local firms, including JHW Architects, Ausonio Construction and Greenfuse Consulting. It's also the first decommissioned Fort Ord military building to be remodeled to LEED Platinum standards. (The county's only other LEED Platinum project is Seaside's Chartwell School.)
"The new Community Justice Center may be the first project in the nation to prove that it is possible to cost-effectively remodel these abandoned buildings as green buildings, rather than tear them down and dump them in a landfill," says school Dean Mitchel Winick.
"As an organization, once you start down the path of trying to be as environmentally aware as possible, it really changes how you look at things. A slightly scratched or dented desk or file cabinet is not only substantially less expensive; it represents an opportunity to keep perfectly usable furniture out of the landfill. Even though it is a brand new facility…we avoided the temptation of just pulling out the catalogues to order new furniture. You have to be willing to wear a few scratches and dents as a badge of honor."
The green standards go beyond salvaged materials. Paint and finishes non-VOC, or free of harmful volatile organic compounds. The building's exterior cinder-block columns are made of a less energy-intensive, more eco-friendly mix of concrete and natural materials. The dry swale recaptures surface water and allows it to percolate back into the aquifer. And the pathways through the native oak trees are made of a semi-permeable material that lets rainwater pass through.
The public is invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour Tuesday, April 20. Seaside Mayor Ralph Rubio will officiate, and the tour will be hosted by Dean Winick and members of the LEED design and construction team. 2pm, Community Justice Center, Monterey College of Law, 100 Colonel Durham Street, Seaside.