LEED Platinum Times Three At Utility’s EcoCampus

There’s a new green campus in town, featuring rooftop gardens, three LEED Platinum buildings, one of the longest Green Streets in Southern California, public art, and an art-deco inspired solar array. Surprisingly, the site is first and foremost home to a power plant at the Burbank Water and Power (BWP) campus in Burbank, California.

When building the award-winning Magnolia Power Plant power plant in 2005, BWP had to restore several substations on site and decided to take things about 99 steps further. Collaborating with AHBE Landscape Architects, BWP created their EcoCampus, the first sustainable utility campus in the state.

Burbank Water and Power EcoCampus

image via Burbank Water and Power

The campus holds three of the 50 LEED Platinum buildings that exist across California. Restoring the administration building true to its art deco style, BWP upgraded the structure and systems to qualify for Platinum status. Three rooftop gardens on the building channel and filter storm water, and moderate the heat island effect by releasing moisture to cool the air and reduce the building’s air conditioning needs. The other two buildings include California’s first warehouse designed to LEED Platinum, and an electrical equipment building currently under construction.

The Magnolia Power Plant uses 100 percent recycled water in its steam generation process and keeps all discharge out of storm drains. So it’s only fitting that the rest of the campus extends this focus on water conservation, conserving and filtering water through infiltration, flow-through, detention, tree root cells, and rainwater capture. Along one of Southern California’s longest Green Streets, water filters through the landscape vegetation, slowing down the water and filtering out pollutants before reaching groundwater aquifers.

Burbank Water and Power EcoCampus Substation

image via Burbank Water and Power

Merging past with the present technology, a multitasking art deco-styled solar power array provides shade to parked cars, channels rainwater to a filtration system and, of course, provides power to the service center and warehouse.

The finishing touches on the sustainable campus include the reclaimed substation left intact at the heart of the campus as a trellis for nature to take over, also serving as an outdoor meeting space. For non-employees, Pocket Park was created for locals to enjoy some green space and learn about the various sustainable features of the campus.

“Never before have so many different sustainable landscape technologies been integrated into a single industrial campus,” BWP General Manager Ron Davis said in a statement. “BWP chose to do this to show that sustainability is not just about a single action or decision; it’s about the ripple effect that consistent, sustainable decisions can make. BWP’s EcoCampus is literally powered by innovation. We want this to cause a ripple.”

Angeli Duffin is a Midwest transplant currently living in San Francisco, CA. Kicking off her career doing product design and development with Fair Trade artisans around the world, she then moved on to the editorial side, writing for eBay’s Green Team blog and working as a marketing consultant for social and environmentally minded companies