Palomar making bold strides in commitment to sustainability


Last updated 10/11/2019 at 6:54am

A 180-kilowatt photovoltaic array was installed this summer on the new maintenance and operations building at Palomar College, which has won numerous awards for its energy-saving design features.

SAN MARCOS – From award-winning "green" buildings to solar energy to high-efficiency LED lighting, Palomar College is reducing its carbon footprint by slashing the amount of electricity that's needed to operate a college campus.

"As one of the largest institutions in North County, Palomar College is leading the way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by implementing strategic upgrades that are better for the college, and ultimately better for the environment," Joi Lin Blake, Ph.D., superintendent and president of Palomar College, said.

The list of recent sustainability initiatives includes groundbreaking designs as well as institutionwide upgrades that add up to significant reductions in energy consumption and costs:

Solar Energy

Nearly every new project on campus has been built with large photovoltaic arrays. These include a 443-kilowatt system under construction atop the parking structure that opened in 2018. The 180-kilowatt system recently installed on the maintenance and operations building is sized to make that facility "net-zero" within the first year. The college is nearing its goal of 1 megawatt of solar capacity.

Proposition 39 Upgrades

As part of a five-year effort to implement the California Clean Energy Jobs Act, or Proposition 39, Palomar College replaced all light fixtures with LED lighting and installed a state-of-the-art Energy Management System. Energy savings are anticipated to amount to 3.3 million kilowatt hours every year – equivalent to 2,334 metric tons of carbon dioxide not being released into the atmosphere.

Water Use Reduction

In addition to installing efficient fixtures like low-flow toilets, Palomar College has implemented "Smart Controllers" to maximize efficiency within its large irrigation system. The college also added a third groundwater well this year to support the Edwin and Frances Hunter Arboretum as the two original wells pump water to campus landscaping. With the third well, as much as 75-85% of the irrigation water used on campus will be groundwater, drastically reducing the college's demand for imported water.

Transportation Demand Management

To reduce carbon emissions and ease traffic congestion, Palomar College helps students obtain discounted "Compass" cards for the North County Transportation District's trains and buses. Parking has been streamlined by the opening of a 1,400-space structure, and electric vehicle charging stations have been opened at "premier" locations on campus.

Submitted by Palomar College.


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