New County Nature Center
LEED GOLD and ZERO NET ENERGY
IMEG provided engineering services to the County of San Diego’s new Santa Ysabel Nature Center located on an environmentally sensitive, undeveloped parcel of land near Highway 79 in Santa Ysabel. The design intent was to have a sustainability-focused experience that connects people to the outdoors while promoting the County’s “Live Well” goaIs.
The facility required infrastructure, off-site improvements, surface parking, outdoor educational and interpretive elements, and site design. The nature center includes interpretive space for education exhibits with state-of-the-art electronic and digital elements, a conference room capable of accommodating events for up to 100 people, an information area, Wi-Fi, restrooms, and staff offices.
IMEG provided expertise in designing the new center with a rooftop PV system to help meet both LEED Gold and Zero Net Energy certifications. The design provides energy efficiency of 20 percent better than the current California energy code Title 24 minimum efficiency compliance.
The nature center presented some unique problems for the design team. Because the building site was situated on a wildlife preserve, destruction of trees and protected plants on the property was strictly prohibited. A plan to create safe zones around the site where disturbance during construction would cause the least harm to the environment was developed. This further ensured that site disturbance could be avoided as well as maximizing structure efficiency, usability, and sustainability.