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New Mission College Building Earns LEED Gold

Mission College’s newly constructed Gary G. Gillmor and Family Academic Center has been awarded LEED Gold Certification, joining two other buildings in the West Valley-Mission Community College District in earning a LEED certification.

Gillmor Center, which opened to students in fall 2014, is the first phase in replacing the campus’ Main Building and was designed with LEED certification in mind. LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program through the U.S. Green Building Council that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Gold is the second highest certification.

“Receiving the LEED Gold Certification makes us very proud of the quality construction of this new building that features a two-story light-filled entry, solar panels on its roof and a geothermal heating and cooling system,” said MC President Daniel Peck. “The Gillmor Center is the newest building on the Mission College campus, housing classrooms, labs with state-of-the-art equipment and technology that serves over 2,229 students, teachers and guests. Since its opening this fall, our students, staff and faculty think it is one of the most beautiful, eco-sustainable buildings in the Silicon Valley, and as president, I have to agree.”

Gillmor Center earned points toward Gold Certification in a number of categories. Two particular features, however, stand out about the building, said Gaye Dabalos, WVMCCD director of facilities construction.

Topping the list, said Dabalos, is the building’s geothermal system that uses the ground as its heating and cooling agent. It is essentially a highly energy-efficient heating and HVAC system, and has the potential to cut that building’s energy use by two-thirds.

Popular on the East Coast, geothermal systems are rare in the Bay Area and in California in general, Dabalos said. Considered cutting-edge technology in the state, such systems require a lot of land because of the large area underground needed for the full system, Dabalos said. In this case, the geothermal system was built below three softball fields and one baseball field at Mission College.

Additionally, Dabalos said, the roof of the Gillmor Center has solar panels, which will help offset a third of the building’s power consumption.

Other green building features of the Gillmor Center include water efficient landscaping, use of certified wood, efficient lighting controls and use of low-emitting materials, among many other aspects.

“Hitting gold is a really awesome thing for the campus,” Dabalos said. “It really aligns with the goals of the campus to be environmentally conscious.”

The building is the first building at Mission College to earn a LEED certification and the first in the district to earn a Gold Certification. Two buildings at West Valley College have earned LEED certification – the Language Arts & Social Sciences Building earned LEED Silver and the Campus Center earned a basic LEED certification.

Construction of the second phase in Mission College’s Main Building replacement will likely begin next spring. That building also is being designed with LEED certification in mind.