The Pinnacles National Monument West Side Visitor Center located in Monterey County has received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, the highest and most difficult level to achieve. The LEED Green Building Rating System is a set criteria put together by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to promote green building and to create a benchmark for sustainable design. The Visitor Center is only the second National Park Service (NPS)  in the US to achieve this elite status.

The NPS hired RRM Design Group as part of a design-build team with Anderson Burton Construction, Inc. (ABCI). This project provided new facilities for the west entrance of the park including an entry station, visitor center, maintenance building, visitor parking area and educational exhibits. Photovoltaic panels were used on the buildings along with on-site well and waste treatment to make this project completely off-grid from a utilities standpoint. A new dormitory building and two duplexes for permanent and seasonal rangers are also part of the project.

LEED recognizes performance in key areas such as sustainable site design, water efficiency, energy efficiency, use of recycled and regional materials and resources, and indoor environmental health. To achieve LEED Platinum, a project needs to obtain a minimum of 52 out of 69 possible credits based on these key areas. The Pinnacles project received 54 credits total. Some of the sustainable features include the following:

  • The project is completely off-grid, utilizing solar energy for its power source.
  • The project uses 32% less water to operate than an average building. This is a savings of 22,985 gallons annually.
  • The project does not include landscape irrigation relying entirely on native drought tolerant plantings
  • The project uses 51.8% less energy than an average building which equates to 37,781 kWh annually.
  • The project diverted 301 tons of construction waste from landfills which accounted for 99.9% of the total construction waste generated.
  • At least 41% of the building’s materials were harvested and manufactured within 500 miles of the project site.
  • 100% of all regularly occupied spaces have daylighting and 99% of the regulary occupied spaces have access to views to the outdoors.

Candice Wong, AIA, LEED AP BC+D, the LEED Project Coordinator for RRM stated, “The National Park Service has an exceptional history of protecting our national resources.   It is fitting that the Pinnacles Visitors Center upholds this important mission of the NPS.  The West Side Visitor Contact Station is an outstanding example of environmental stewardship by the National Park Service. The design build team of RRM and ABCI exceeded NPS’ expectations on this project by achieving the highest level of certification available by the USGBC. Visitors and rangers alike will continue to reap the benefits of this sustainable facility for many years to come. This is a fitting tribute to this treasured national monument.“