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College of the Desert Receives LEED® Gold Certification for Cravens Student Services Center

The Cravens Student Services Center (CSSC) at College of the Desert (COD) has been awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold Certification. A representative from the Coachella Valley Chapter of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) will present the plaque to the College at the April Green Council meeting scheduled for Apr. 30 at noon. The meeting will be held in the Multi-purpose Room in the Cravens Student Services Building.

“The Cravens Center state-of-the-art sustainable design is good for our environment, the economy and community,” said Dr. Bonnie Stefan, Chair Desert Community College District (DCCD) Board of Trustees. “We are most appreciative of the efforts of our project team to demonstrate our commitment to sustainable principles and practices.”

The Cravens Student Services Center is the first DCCD building to achieve Gold LEED® certification. The Cravens Center was awarded 69 out of a possible 79 points. Previously, both the COD Barker Foundation Nursing Complex and the City of Palm Desert Public Safety Academy at COD, have received LEED® silver certification. The state-of-the-art facilities at COD opened for classes in January 2009.

Peggy and Donald Cravens endowed the facility with a $ 3.5 million pledge in 2006, to be used for maintenance and upkeep in perpetuity. The CSSC is the landmark two-story building anchoring an expanded front entrance to the college on the Monterey Avenue side. The 48,132 square foot building is one of several Phase One projects paid for by a $346.5 million bond issue approved by Valley voters in 2004. It cost an estimated $16 million to build. The Center opened in April 2010.

The Cravens Center was designed by DLR Group WWCOT Architects Pam Touschner and Dennis Tanida and built by C. W. Driver. ‘We are very proud and honored to be a part of this ‘Gateway Building’ and that its sustainable design supports new and future students and administration,” Touschner said. “Students today make choices about their education, clothes, food and music with sustainable practices in mind. The COD community will benefit from the multiple of sustainable materials and systems inherent in the building for many years to come.” The new building houses all of the student services programs under one roof, giving students a more convenient ‘one stop shopping’ approach to admissions and enrollment services, counseling, and much more.

At the Cravens Center, consideration has been given to using sustainable building materials, building design features with proper shades and introducing appropriate natural lighting into the building, using energy efficient equipment and fixtures, energy-efficient building systems, sustainable landscape and site design, the use of alternative transportation such as bicycles and energy efficient vehicles, waste material/product handling, enhanced refrigerant management, storage and collection of recyclables and the use of low-emitting materials such as paints, coatings and carpet systems and building process during the construction phase.

Facilities Director Steve Renew stated, “it is through the commitment of the students, faculty and staff who continue to participate in the Green Council that are interested and committed to changing behaviors.” Renew went on to say that, “having highly sustainable facilities and having a building certified by the USGBC is important, but it is more important to understand and support how living and operating in a sustainable building is different from those built in the past. We have to have different expectations and behavior about lighting, air conditioning, water use and waste than we had in facilities of the past, and it is key that the occupants themselves be an active component in the use and life of a building.”

Water consumption savings are achieved by low flow plumbing fixtures, xeriscape (low water landscaping), electrical lighting is provided by energy-efficient fluorescent lamps.

The building’s lighting system exceeds standards by more than twenty-five percent. Photovoltaics provide 7.5 percent of the buildings energy. Building materials used in the construction contained at least a twenty percent recycled content. The materials were sourced within a 500-mile radius of the jobsite. Nearly seventy-five percent of all jobsite construction and demolition debris was recycled or otherwise diverted from landfills. Paint, carpet, particleboard, adhesives and sealants were selected for low emissions of volatile organic compounds to ensure good indoor air quality. 

Just north of the Cravens Center, the Communication building is under construction. The new building is planned as a two-story steel framed building of approximately 39,880 sq. ft. The building will house classrooms, faculty offices, meeting rooms and ancillary spaces. The building will be designed to achieve a LEED rating certification. It is slated to open in Spring 2013.

On the other side of the campus, and almost complete, is the Math Science Technology Center (MSTC). The new building will provide additional Science laboratories and six classrooms, as well as offices and the College's MESA program. It will also be the new location of the District's Information Technologies Department which continues to grow with the College. It will be a two story building on the campus' east side. The 40,353 sq. ft. building is scheduled to open this summer and cost an estimated $17 million to build.

Other construction projects funded by the bond and already completed include the Coeta and Donald Barker Nursing Complex, the City of Palm Desert Public Safety Academy at COD, the Alumni Centre and a new Central Plant. The bond also calls for expansion into the east and west sides of the valley and the complete overhaul of the existing main campus infrastructure in Palm Desert, where utilities, mechanical components and some 20 buildings will be replaced or renovated planned through the year 2015. The original campus construction began in 1961.

The College’s Policy on Sustainability states:  All District buildings, in response to the policy, will be LEED certified, most at the Silver level and some at the Gold level.  We’ve found that good, sensible planning that responds to the local climate and site puts us well within the range of LEED Silver certification. LEED certification from the USGBC is the benchmark of sustainable planning. Taking the extra step of registering our projects for LEED certification and commissioning both the construction process and the buildings adds very little cost to the project yet demonstrates our commitment to building and operating our facilities sustainably.

Look for more LEED certifications in our upcoming projects.

For more information about COD’s Bond projects go to 

Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the LEED® Green Building Rating System™ is a framework for identifying, implementing and measuring green building and neighborhood design, construction, operations and maintenance. LEED® is voluntary and designed for new and existing commercial, institutional, and residential building, including neighborhood development. Several categories are used in the LEED® Green Building Rating System such as sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, awareness and education, location and linkages, neighborhood patter and design, green infrastructure and building, innovation in design /operations, and regional priority. The LEED®  rating system is based on a 100 point scale with an extra 10 bonus points available for innovation in design, exemplary performance, or achievement of credits identified as having regional importance on a project’s location. LEED® certification is awarded based on this scale: 40-49 points Certified; 50-59 points Silver; 60-79 points Gold; and 80+ points Platinum. There are four standard principal types of LEED® requirements: prerequisites, core credits, innovation credits and regional priority credits. For more information about LEED® Certification and guidelines visit the U.S. Green Building Council website at

April 2012