By Claude Goguen, P.E., LEED AP
Since its inception in 1887, Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., has grown to become one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges. With 1,500 students, Pomona College offers a student-faculty ratio of eight-to-one.
Among their many sustainability goals, college planners wanted to make the campus more pedestrian-friendly. They also wanted to free up space for further campus expansion by using old lots for new building sites and open green spaces.
The answer was to build a parking garage that did not look like a parking garage. Ehrlich Architects, Culver City, Calif., partnered with Watry Designs, Redwood City, Calif., to design a two-story, 318,000-sq-ft parking garage for 608 vehicles on the south campus. The garage was built on sloping land so that the structure is partially underground with only one side exposed. Not only was the southeast corner of the garage bermed so that it fuses into the campus, the architects also placed a synthetic-turf athletic field on the roof.
By undertaking this project, Pomona College ended up with not only a durable and aesthetically pleasing garage, but also one that matches up with the ongoing campus initiative to go green and to become a more pedestrian-friendly campus.
The future of parking garages
There are reportedly more than 500 million surface parking spaces in the United States, and the number grows daily. In some cities, parking lots make up more than a third of the land area! But the basics of parking design haven’t changed much since the 1950s.
Some cities, engineers and architects have taken the initiative to push parking garages underground or reinvent them for dual uses. A trend started in Miami in 1996 as the Ballet Valet Parking Garage on South Beach was built with an art deco facade incorporating vertical vegetation. A few years later, 1111 Lincoln Road was built. This Miami parking garage is such a hotspot, it has even hosted weddings! Constructed of concrete and glass, it is visually stunning and incorporates many uses, including residential and commercial.
Pomona College’s garage is yet another example of this continuing and emerging trend. Michelle Wendler of Watry Designs, the structural engineer and executive architect for the project, says that besides serving multiple purposes, the garage checks off another trend: the seemingly counterintuitive one of integrating parking structure within their environments.
StructureCast of Bakersfield, Calif., has been manufacturing a wide range of precast concrete products for more than 30 years. Its facility is midway between the Los Angeles Basin and the Northern California population centers. StructureCast, whose Pomona College work was a winning entry in the inaugural 2013 NPCA Sustainability Awards, supplied 165 architectural precast panels for this LEED Platinum project. The company worked with designers at the beginning to come up with textures and colors that would blend best with the area’s natural environment and terrain. The panel finishes had a medium acid-etched exposure and used a specially selected natural stone and a tan color pigment.
In addition to the panels, StructureCast manufactured unique roof-level spandrels with integrated benches that allow spectator seating for the rooftop field. These structures contributed to LEED credits because of the recycled content of the reinforcement, as well as the relatively short distance between extraction of raw materials to the plant and the distance from the plant to the job site.
In keeping up with the demands of the construction industry, many NPCA members, such as StructureCast, have adopted sustainable practices in their purchasing, manufacturing and shipping operations, and have helped projects achieve sustainability-related goals. The precast concrete industry has benefited from their actions, and it is in this spirit that NPCA’s Sustainability Committee created the NPCA Sustainability Awards. The goal of this award program is to reward excellence in sustainable products, practices and operations within NPCA membership, and to publicize the overall progress of the precast concrete industry toward sustainability.
The inaugural NPCA Sustainability Awards were handed out at The Precast Show 2013 in Indianapolis. Of the 13 entries submitted, four winners were chosen in four categories: Associate Product, Associate Plant, Producer Project and Producer Plant. StructureCast won both producer categories, including the Producer Project category for “Pomona College South Campus Parking Garage.”
Other winners and entrants
Nycon Corp., Fairless Hills, Pa., won in the Associate Product category with its Nycon-G Fiber, a product that can be used in fiber-reinforced concrete. In an effort to create a greener fiber product, Nycon-G was invented using 100% reclaimed post-consumer and post-industrial waste carpet. The timing was favorable, as the federal government and nylon manufacturers were working to develop a way to increase their recycling efforts.
Nycon-G can be used for decorative and construction purposes. The fiber was used in a large-scale project at the Heldrich Hotel and Conference Center in New Brunswick, N.J. The 500 precast concrete panels used in the project were produced with concrete that included the Nycon-G fiber.
The use of this fiber offers excellent crack control, improves the concrete’s resistance to plastic shrinkage and abrasion, and helped the project achieve LEED Platinum certification (1).
M.A. Industries, Peachtree City, Ga., won in the Associate Plant category with its implementation of a new recycling program. M.A. Industries’ manufacturing plant was generating excessive amounts of waste and was in need of a recycling program. All waste was classified as trash and hauled away in a 30-cu-yd dumpster, including items that could have been recycled. This resulted in costs of about $55,000 a year. Reducing the amount of trash by separating the recyclables would reduce the yearly cost of waste removal.
A core team was formed to take on the task of developing a project to reduce waste cost by 25% through the recycling of paper and cardboard products. They developed a timeline with a targeted completion date of February 2012. Working with M.A. Industries employees, the team collected data on waste generation and disposal. First, they replaced cardboard containers with self-dumping hoppers, which reduced waste by minimizing the amount of discarded cardboard. Also, recycling bins were provided throughout the office for personnel to use and participate in this initiative. Cardboard, cellophane and clean paper products were segregated from other waste for recycling.
The old dumpster was emptied two to three times at a rate of $375 each time. As a result of the recycling efforts, the 8-yd replacement dumpster is emptied once a week at a rate of $100 per month. This not only resulted in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly operation, but also saved M.A. Industries $53,400 annually.
StructureCast won a second award in the Producer Plant category with its material recycling center. StructureCast set up a crushing and screening plant primarily to recycle the return concrete from three concrete plants (StructureCast and two others) and their washout. In 2010, the four-acre facility began to accept waste concrete and asphalt from construction projects. The processed product is then resold (about 10,000 tons per month) as road base to paving contractors, and the recycled steel goes to scrap iron centers. The project is operated by three men about 15 days per month.
The recycling project is welcomed by state and local agencies, as 100% of the recycled materials are reused in right-of-way construction. Sustainability benefits include reuse of waste, less construction waste entering landfills, less need for mining of new materials, and lower emissions. Transportation costs were reduced, as the recycling site is four miles from the city center, while the area’s rock deposits are 40 to 60 miles further away.
Claude Goguen, P.E., LEED AP, is NPCA’s director of Technical Services and Sustainability.
First Place: Associate Product
Carpet to Concrete – Making Fibers From Waste Carpet
Nycon Corporation, Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania
Nycon-G Reinforcing Fiber for Precast Panels
First Place: Associate Plant
Recycling for Dollars: New Program Saves Big Money
Implementation of a New Recycling Program
- BASF Concrete Mix Optimization Program
- Hill & Griffith Company, Rainwater Harvesting
- Hill & Griffith Company, GRIFCOTE LV050 Form Release
First Place: Sustainable Project
Soccer on the Roof – LEED Platinum Parking Structure
StructureCast, Bakersfield, California
Pomona College South Campus Parking Structure
First Place: Sustainable Plant
Waste Makes Base – Recovering Scrap Concrete and Steel
StructureCast, Bakersfield, California
Material Recycling Center
- Arto Brick California Pavers, Port of Los Angeles World Cruise Center, Photovoltaic Array
- Lindsay Concrete Products, Precast Concrete Solar Skid Shelters
- Mountain West Precast, I-15 Concrete Pavement Rehabilitation
- Smith-Midland Corp., Single Stream Recycling Program
- Smith-Midland Corp., Wall Panels/U.S. Army Legal Service Agency Admin. Building
- Utility Concrete Products, Baha’i House of Worship Rainwater Harvesting Project
(1) For more information on this product, check out their website at: http://www.nycon.com/ncwp/product/nycon-g/