Southwestern College’s Sustainable Designs Wins Two Awards from San Diego’s Green Building Council

The San Diego Green Building Council has granted Southwestern College the Sustainable Organization award for its vision, leadership and commitment to integrate and contribute to sustainability within the San Diego region. The council is also awarding the college with the Unbuilt Most Efficient EUI Merit Award for its design of the new Landscape and Nursery Technology project.

Southwestern College is one of the few educational institutions winning awards this year, and college representatives were presented with the awards in an online ceremony Thursday.  

“It is such an honor to be recognized by the San Diego Green Building Council,” said Dr. Kindred Murillo, Southwestern College superintendent/president. “We want to build a culture around sustainable practices on our campuses and champion forward-thinking in bettering our community in every way possible.”

The San Diego Green Building Council received more than 50 different applications for this year’s 15th annual Sustainability Awards ceremony. 

Each of the major construction projects in Southwestern College’s Propositions R and Z bond measures are being built to LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) standards. The Green Building Council recognized those efforts, along with the college’s efforts to meet International WELL Building Institute (WELL) and Zero Energy Certification (ZNE) guidelines. 

Southwestern College has woven sustainability into all current projects with more than $300 million in construction and 400,000 square feet of new and renovated space. The Landscape and Nursery Technology project (five buildings), Institutional Technology Building, Autotech Building, Student Union, Instructional Building 1 (10 buildings) are all pursuing very low energy use design strategies and zero net energy with the integration of solar power.

Southwestern College focused on environmental stewardship, social equity, water & wastewater, site and habitat, material procurement and waste management, energy conservation and generation, greenhouse gases & climate action, said representatives from Gensler, the college’s architectural partner that submitted the award application. 

The Central Plant, DeVore Stadium and the Wellness & Aquatic Complex are LEED BD+C Gold Certified with a strong focus on health and wellness. The Math, Science and Engineering Building and the Performing Arts Center are pursuing LEED BD+C Silver certifications.

“SDGBC values the work that goes into creating a sustainable building, community and environment,” said Steven Shinn, board member and chair of the Sustainability Awards. “Sustainability is more than the use of materials or being energy efficient. It also includes aspects of health and wellness, community engagement and productivity, enhancing academic learning and overall wellness of the people.”

The Unbuilt Most Efficient Merit Award also went to Southwestern College for the future Landscape and Nursery Technology Center.

SWC Landscape and Nursery building plans wins awards from the San Diego Green Building Council
SWC Landscape and Nursery building plans wins awards from the San Diego Green Building Council

The Landscape and Nursery Technology project will include classroom buildings, an administrative building, a multi-purpose building, a maintenance building, greenhouses, numerous gardens and outdoor community spaces. All buildings were strategically planned to include sustainable features, such as shading southern exposure, passive ventilation, a solar chimney and use of mass timber for structural systems, Gensler representatives said. 

All of these plans resulted in a yearly use of energy average that scored 65% better than the national average, the award application said.

The San Diego Green Building Council is a community of building industry professionals and sustainability advocates with expertise in architecture, construction, design, urban planning, policy and more. Their goal is to promote sustainable building and community practices in the San Diego region closer to achieving better climate, water, waste and energy goals. 

Every year the Green Building Council identifies award winning people, organizations and or projects that advocate for sustainable leadership and projects in San Diego.