So Cal Gas building is LEED certified

DOWNEY - Southern California Gas Co.'s Energy Resource Center in Downey, a showcase facility where business customers can learn about energy efficiency, alternative fuel transportation and make informed choices about energy consumption and conservation, has achieved LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for existing building operations and maintenance. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy Efficiency Design. LEED Gold is the second highest rating (behind LEED Platinum) of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit organization that promotes green building efficiency.

LEED certification for existing buildings helps maximize the efficiency of the operations while minimizing the impact on the environment, officials said.

The rating system encourages owners and operators of existing buildings to implement sustainable practices and reduce the environmental impacts of their buildings while addressing the major aspects of ongoing building operations, like exterior building site maintenance programs, water and energy use, environmentally preferred products and practices for cleaning and alterations, sustainable purchasing policies, waste stream management and ongoing indoor environmental quality.

In order to meet the LEED Gold certification requirements for existing buildings, So Cal Gas benefitted from the incorporation of the latest sustainable features in the Energy Resource Center's design. Some of the facility's key elements include:

Replaced the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and installed high-efficiency air handlers, natural gas absorption chillers and variable speed pumps.

Removed sod and high-water consumption plants and aboveground sprinkler system. Created a garden using California native plants, drip irrigation and bio swales to divert rain water back into the soil.

Installed a new dimmable lighting system which allows the building to control light levels throughout the facility. In areas with natural daylight, light levels were reduced through use of a daylight harvesting program.

Upgraded the energy management system to capture up to a year's worth of data on the HVAC components and lighting system.

Installed a zero-chemical Dolphin water treatment system, allowing So Cal Gas to maintain high water quality for its HVAC equipment.

The 44,572-square foot building was designed by recycling (demolishing only about one-third) of So Cal Gas' existing 1957 building complex. The building's center section was replaced with a new two-story addition, adding 12,572 square feet. About 60 percent of the building materials were left in place, removed for future reinstallation or recycled. About 80 percent of all construction materials, internal furnishings and displays are either recycled, contain recycled material or are made of renewable resources.

The building consists of main office spaces, an exhibit hall and a dozen meeting rooms which highlight different themes from the energy industry: air quality, combustion, climate control, large equipment, residential new construction, food service equipment, natural daylighting and natural gas vehicles.

A key component of the Energy Resource Center is the full commercial Food Service Equipment Center that boasts more than 150 pieces of energy efficient appliances. Chefs, restaurant owners and facility managers can test their recipes and compare new, energy efficient foodservice equipment in the state-of-the-art facility.

"Since opening in 1995, the Energy Resource Center has been a valuable one-stop 'idea shop' where customers can find the most efficient, cost-effective and environmentally sensitive solutions to their energy needs," said Rodger Schwecke, vice president of customer solutions at So Cal Gas. "Earning LEED Gold certification is a significant milestone for So Cal Gas. "The facility serves the community by demonstrating ways we all can move toward a more sustainable energy future."

The Energy Resource Center, located at 9240 E. Firestone Blvd. across from Stonewood Center, was the first building in the state to receive the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star Award.

********** Published: June 20, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 10