SAN MARCOS — The Maintenance & Operations (M&O) Building at Palomar College has been named one of the top 100 “Green GOOD DESIGN” projects in the world.

The award was bestowed by the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design. Organizers also named the architectural firm BNIM, which designed the complex at the corner of West Mission and North Las Posas roads.

Dennis Astl, Manager of Construction and Facilities Planning at Palomar, said this recognition marks the 12th time the project has been awarded by industry groups like the San Diego Architectural Foundation, which awarded M&O its Malone Grand Orchid in October 2019.

This time, the award came as a surprise after BNIM submitted M&O for consideration. The awards include building projects as well as consumer products.

The building was dedicated in a public ceremony on April 12, 2019. In September, a 180 KW solar array was activated on the roof of the Operations wing of the building, bringing the facility closer to the builders’ goal of “net-zero” energy efficiency.

“We were focused on reducing the size of the building, being as energy-efficient as possible, and using passive techniques to achieve net-zero,” Astl said. “We got there by using daylight instead of artificial lighting, natural ventilation, thermal chimneys to reduce the demand for air conditioning.”

Astl said the college is in the process of pursuing Living Building Challenge certification, which includes net-zero consumption as one of its requirements.

“I’m very confident it’ll be net-zero,” said Astl, adding that, based on real-time readings from the solar array, “I think it will actually end up being net-positive, meaning it’ll produce more energy than it’ll consume.”