Sustainable Design Elements

Sustainability achievements are measured through 2 rating systems: the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) for the building (the PCC has achieved a Silver level certification) and the Sustainable SITES initiative for the surrounding gardens.

Alternative transportation measures such as bike racks, changing rooms, and LE and fuel-efficient vehicle parking have been added to the grounds.


Icon for materialsMore than 20% of materials are regional and have recycled content including rock for walls and garden beds. These were sourced on-site by either salvaging from structures that had burned down in the Jesusita Fire in 2009 (cut stone), or unearthed while installing water and sewer lines (uncut stones).

Construction materials (such as concrete & sandstone) mitigate daily temperature swings in addition to adding fire resistance to the building.

Water Efficiency & Storm Design

Icon for water efficiency & storm designThree underground cisterns collect 45,000 gallons of stormwater runoff from the building and parking lot for irrigation. Water is funneled through a bioswale to remove dirt, debris, and chemical residues before it is stored.

Over 50% reduction in potable water consumption for landscape use and 35% reduction of indoor water use with efficient fixtures.

Air Quality & Comfort

Icon for comfortEighteen-inch diameter "Earth Tubes" wrap around the basement, bringing in fresh air from outside. As the air travels through the tubes, it warms or cools to the earth's temperature - in our case around 65 degrees F (18.3°C) - keeping the space a comfortable temperature year-round. 

Construction materials (i.e. adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, flooring systems) comply with low emission standards.


Icon for energySolar panels cover the rooftop and second-floor patio, providing at least 70% of the power needed for the building. Ultimately, a system this size is expected to produce about 65 megawatt-hours per year of renewable electricity - enough to power over 9 California homes annually.

30% reduction in electricity use by optimizing performance.


Icon for innovationUltra-high glazed windows maximize light in the building while also reducing heat gain reducing the energy needed for artificial lighting, heating, and cooling.

A state-of-the-art herbarium & seed bank are underground to protect specimens from wildfires.

No wood is used in the entire building.