HGA Architects and Engineers recently completed phase one of design work for the new West Valley Campus at College of the Desert in Palm Springs, California, which will be one of the most energy-efficient college campuses in the country. The plan includes a 60-acre solar farm that will be leased to a third-party operator to produce power for the school. In addition to energy production, the comprehensive plan calls for a number of energy conservation techniques that will help the school become a model for sustainability research.
College of the Desert is a two-year community college with about 3,400 full-time students that is located in the Coachella Valley. Renewable energy production will be a major focus of the school’s curriculum, and the school’s expansion will include new labs for solar panel and wind turbine engineering. Outside of the classroom, the new West Valley campus will provide an educational model for creating new and innovative approaches to sustainability.
“The plan emphasizes energy production along with substantial conservation and energy efficiency, waste recovery and biomimicry in partnership with green industries and educational initiatives,” explain HGA in a press release. “The campus will consider the site’s unique ecology and natural resources to create a national model for sustainable research and teaching that supports the local economy and educational needs in the Coachella Valley.”
College of the Desert is partnering with Southern California Edison to build a 60-acre solar farm next to the campus to provide for the school’s energy needs. At the center of the campus there will be a manmade arroyo (a dry riverbed), which will collect rainwater and lead it to a retention pond, where it will be stored and used for irrigation. Perforated metal panels will be used on the facades of new buildings to allow gentle breezes to naturally cool the buildings. Other sustainable design features will include façades that minimize heat gain, shading and daylighting techniques, energy-efficient mechanical systems, and native landscaping.