Border Crossing Aims For Net-Zero Energy

Every day more than 100,000 people cross the U.S.-Mexico border at San Ysidro, outside San Diego, making it the busiest land port in the world. Now, a redevelopment project is aiming to turn it into the greenest crossing, targeting net-zero energy use and LEED Platinum certification through energy efficiency, water conservation strategies and an integrated design process.

The crossing overhaul will begin next year, according to the design firm Miller Hull, which said it landed the $395 million project over nine other national architectural firms. Among the highlights of the first phase of the project is erection of a 725-foot “pillow” canopy, held up by four masts, that will cover 34 lanes of traffic. Made of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene—the material also used for the aquatics center at the 2008 Beijing Olympics—the canopy will provide protection from the sun and rain, while being translucent enough to make daytime artificial lighting unnecessary.

image via Miller Hull

The second and third phases of the project will focus on pedestrian walkways and busways, with the goal of reducing wait times from 90 minutes to 30 minutes, as well as secure employee parking structures.

“We have received a mandate from President Obama to set the bar for green buildings in this country,” said Maria Ciprazo, regional chief architect for the General Services Administration. “If we can get this project to be net zero within our budget, then the private sector can do it as well.”

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Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.