Jul 29, 2014

Highest Green Rating for Recycling Center

The El Cerrito Recycling Center – which features recycled rain water, solar power and construction from reused materials – has been certified as LEED Platinum, the highest rating for environmental friendliness rating, the city announced Tuesday.

Highest Green Rating for Recycling Center

El Cerrito's new Recycling Center has been granted a coveted LEED Platinum rating, the highest grade for green building, the city announced Tuesday.

The coveted Platinum  certification from the U.S. Green Building Council recognized the value of the environmentally friendly components incorporated into the recycling facility, including reuse of construction materials from the old Recycling Center, recycling of rain water and solar power.

“A LEED Platinum rating is fitting for this environmentally forward facility," El Cerrito's new mayor, Greg Lyman, said in a prepared statement. "The community is very proud of the Center, the exceptional Platinum rating, our Environmental Quality Committee and the hard working staff of the Environmental Services Division. This project demonstrates El Cerrito's continued commitment to the environment.” 

The U.S. Green Building Council offers four levels of certification for buildings that meet certain environmental standards. Platinum is the highest, followed by Gold, Sliver and Certified. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

A minimum of 80 points on a 110-point scale is required for a Platinum rating. The Recycling Center scored 82 on its report card. (The report card is attached to this article.)

El Cerrito's new Recycling Center opened in April at the foot of an abandoned rock quarry at 7501 Schmidt Lane. It replaced the city's old Recycling Center, which began in 1972 and gradually expanded at the same location.

The new facility was designed by Noll & Tam Architects and built by Pankow Builders. 

Here is a news release distributed by the city on Tuesday:


El Cerrito, CA:  At the El Cerrito City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 18, 2013, the City will announce the new El Cerrito Recycling + Environmental Resource Center received LEED® Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“A LEED Platinum rating is fitting for this environmentally forward facility.  The community is very proud of the Center, the exceptional Platinum rating, our Environmental Quality Committee and the hard working staff of the Environmental Services Division. This project demonstrates El Cerrito's continued commitment to the environment,” said Mayor Greg Lyman.

The design-build team of Pankow Builders and Noll & Tam Architects were selected by the City in 2010 through a competitive “best value” process. John Baker, Project Executive with Swinerton Management & Consulting said, “Through using design-build, our goal was to engage the best designers and builders in a process that would maximize sustainability, design creativity, practicality, and engage the designers and builders with the community as early as possible.  Achieving LEED Platinum is a tremendous result of this process.”

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)’s LEED certification program provides independent, third-party verification that a building, home or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health: Sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Sustainable elements of the project that contributed to the Center achieving LEED Platinum--the highest possible level of LEED certification--include 10kW of solar photovoltaic panels, an 11,000 gallon rainwater cistern, native landscaping, rain gardens that filter stormwater runoff, extensive energy efficiency measures and a modular administrative building that was fabricated off-site.

Project architect, Chris Noll of Noll & Tam Architects, explained the green building approach used for the Center, “Our entire design team made conscious choices to reduce the carbon footprint of the project from the very beginning. We took extraordinary efforts to harvest rainwater, store it, and re-use it for various functions to achieve extremely low potable water use. Our structural engineer specified concrete that utilizes fly ash to greatly reduce cement and, therefore, carbon. We used reclaimed wood structural elements where feasible, recycled steel where needed. The net-zero energy use makes a significant difference over the lifespan of the project. The ZETA modular construction method, utilized for the Administration Building, also was a more efficient use of energy in the making of the structure. All in all, our team invested a great deal in reducing the embodied energy in this project, exceeding basic project requirements.”

Jim Coyle, Project Manager with Pankow Builders said, “Achieving LEED Platinum is a significant achievement for our collective team. Given the absence of some LEED credits typically available to Platinum projects, such as ability to reuse a building or proximity to regional transit – the story is in Energy and Materials.  Every member of our design-build team gave a tremendous amount of effort, from signage to electrical to water to materials and energy.  This project is a showcase for community involvement in resource conservation.”

On average, the City estimates 400 visitors come to the Center every day. The Center accepts over 28 recyclable materials including some hard-to-recycle items, such as block Styrofoam, and also provides an exchange zone for re-usable books, art supplies, packing materials, etc.

The City is currently offering tours of the new Center on the first Wednesday of each month. Tours can also be arranged for large groups. For more information about the tours, contact the Center at 510-215-4350.

Construction for the City’s new Recycling and Environmental Resources Center began in May 2011. The Center re-opened on Earth Day, April 22, 2012 on the same site as the former Recycling Center at 7501 Schmidt Lane, El Cerrito, CA 94530. The total project cost was $3.5 million and was funded by the City’s Integrated Waste Management Fund.


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