This Mesa College campus design maximizes site functionality and strengthens the college’s commitment to sustainability with unique design elements and complementary features for both the Mesa Commons and the adjacent Exercise Science building. To address the college’s focal sustainability initiatives, the team set out to accomplish the following goals: conserving water by minimizing storm water runoff, mitigating heat by maximizing shading areas, reducing future costs through maintenance-intensive plant material selections, and contributing to regional ecosystem function through plant selections known to attract pollinators and provide a habitat for local fauna.
With an emphasis on water-efficient landscaping, the Commons is the ﬁrst building of all the San Diego County’s community colleges to house a group of six 1,700 gallon cisterns that provide 100% of the site’s irrigation needs (up to 98,000 gallons) through reclaimed HVAC condensate water and collected rain water. An organic rooftop garden is also a ﬁrst for the campus. Used by the Culinary Arts Management department and fed by the day tank, the garden will provide some of the produce used in the building’s student-run café. In addition, the plant palette for both buildings includes California native and drought-tolerant species, providing 75% reduction in total irrigation water needs through the selection of native and drought tolerant plants – saving another 300,696 gallons annually.