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Burbank unveils a $40M-overhaul of a 'greener' utility campus

Burbank Water and Power unveiled its $40-million “eco campus” to the public this past weekend, showing off the culmination of a 13-year transformation of an aging utility site into a showcase of sustainability.

At the open house event on Saturday, visitors toured energy-frugal water fountains and drought-tolerant landscaping. Rooftop gardens that help filter storm water and help cool the building, reducing the use of air conditioning, were also on display.

Three buildings on the campus in the 100 block of West Magnolia Boulevard are certified platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council — a top designation that takes construction materials, energy use, landscaping and other factors in determining just how “green” a building is.

Centennial Park, a new green area in the center of the Burbank Water and Power campus where one old electric substation still stands, also acts as a water filtration system, and is among the many energy-efficient aspects of the site, General Manager Ron Davis said.

“It’s been a very long time in the works,” he said of the 13-year project that has cost more than $40 million.

The environmental overhaul of the campus was done to upgrade worn out infrastructure after the City Council considered closing the plant by June 2000, Davis said.

“The key really is that as you invest in modernizing old infrastructure, you still have to bring prices down relative to your competitors,” he said. “You try to find savings and efficiencies.”

The result is a campus overhaul that has gone beyond the norm.

Daniel Stricker, an energy project specialist with the U.S. Dept. of Energy, said many federal grant recipients are doing solar panels to green their infrastructure, but Burbank went further.

“Very few — I don’t think any I’ve seen — are combining green roof, combining solar panels, combining existing architecture, LEED certified platinum architecture into their project, storm water run-off, water reclamation — you just don’t see it,” Stricker said of Burbank’s campus. “This is a very unique project in that sense….it’s probably the only one of its kind that I’m aware of.”

-- Maria Hsin, Times Community News

Twitter: @masiahsin

Photo:Three of California's 50 LEED Platinum buildings are on their 23-acre campus which includes California's first LEED Platinum warehouse. Credit: Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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