Indoors, our state-of-the-art, green facility employs a number of “green” features using U.S. Green Building Council LEED guidelines as a frame of reference. Some basic green measures are the use of local materials — reducing the amount of energy used and emissions produced in acquiring the materials — and the use of recycled and salvaged materials, which reduces waste and emissions related to producing the materials. We have also used many durable, low-maintenance materials. With consideration for the health of the building’s many users, low VOC (volatile organic compounds) products have been specified (including paints, carpets, fabrics and adhesives). Using these low VOC materials for new construction and remodeling projects can significantly reduce the emission of smog-forming compounds and thus promote better air quality.
The installation of a green roof reduces cooling and heating energy consumption with the vegetative surface. This leads to reduced energy costs: a one-story green roof structure can cut cooling costs by 20-30%. Green roofs also extend the life of the roof by providing enhanced membrane durability — double or triple its life, to fifty years or more. Green roofs also have a number of environmental benefits, including absorbing and filtering pollutants from rainwater, reducing runoff flow rates, and absorbing CO2. In addition, they provide habitat for wildlife and can provide acoustical insulation.
Geothermal heat pump systems — also known as “geoexchange” — use the earth’s energy storage capability to heat and cool buildings, and to provide hot water. According to the EPA, geoexchange systems are the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective space conditioning systems available. Geoexchange heating and cooling systems can reduce energy consumption — and corresponding emissions — by more than 40% compared to air source heat pumps and by over 70% compared to electric resistance heating with standard air-conditioning equipment.
In closed loop geoexchange systems, water or antifreeze solution is circulated through plastic pipes buried beneath the earth’s surface. During the winter, the fluid collects heat from the earth and carries it through the system and into the building. During the summer, the system reverses itself to cool the building by pulling heat from the building, carrying it through the system and placing it in the ground. Irvine also has installed a solar panel on its roof which captures the energy of the sun for its hot water heater.
Pervious paving materials permit water to enter the ground by virtue of their porous nature, or by large spaces in the material. Pervious paving areas facilitate groundwater recharge. Pervious paving can accept runoff from roofs and adjacent parking areas and allow it to infiltrate the ground. It can also reduce the need for curbs and gutters as drainage features. Pervious paving decreases runoff issues, including erosion which occurs off of a typical parking lot after a rain event.
Other features include waterless urinals, low flow fixtures, rain barrels and more. For more information on our facility, contact Buildings and Grounds Manager Wally Vait.