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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Police Substation at Miramar College in San Diego, California by McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.

April 17th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.

McCarthy-Built Miramar College Police Substation Receives USGBC LEED Platinum Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has awarded LEED® Platinum Certification of the new 5,108-square-foot police substation at San Diego Miramar College, located at 10440 Black Mountain Road in the Mira Mesa/Scripps Ranch area of San Diego.

McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. (, one of the nation’s leading education and parking builders, constructedthe new police substation, together with the adjacent 270,000-square-foot, 828-space parking structure.Construction of the combined $17.9 million project was completed in late November on behalf of the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD). It is the first higher education facility in San Diego County to achieve LEED Platinum Certification, the highest rating possible.

Working collaboratively with the District and the Campus Police Department was paramount to achieving this goal, stated McCarthy Project Director Bob Betz.

Police Substation at Miramar College

“We were brought in early to work collaboratively with the designers and give input on the constructability of the project’s green design,” said McCarthy Project Director Bob Betz.  “A key design element was the green roof grid system, which covers the majority of the roof deckand potentially would contribute to as many as 11 different credits.”

While the green roof system would have broad implications to this goal, explained Betz, the long-term maintenance, watertight integrity, and building functions had to be considered and the proposed sustainable design products had to be closely evaluated.  While the design specs called for the use of certain sustainable products, the construction team was aware of cases where these newer green products had failed, so it was important to use products that had a proven track record and would endure over time.

The McCarthy team also analyzed the risk/reward factors. Putting drought tolerant native adaptive plant materials on the building’s roof would contribute to a variety of LEED goals;however, the moist, heavy coveringwould increase the strain on the roofing system and make it less accessible to visual inspection and maintenance.

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In order to mitigate the risk, the McCarthy team proposed the use ofa hot rubberized asphalt roofing membrane with a two-inch thick protective concrete topping slab that also served as a walking surface, in lieu of a more traditional single-ply roofing system. While the increased cost to the roof for this “belt and suspenders” system was significantly higher, the added value was clearly worth the investment when viewed in the overall context of the project.

“The result of the risk/reward anal­ysis was that the effectiveness of the LEED design was confirmed, and confidence in the protective roofing system was increased through added physical and proce­dural measures,” said Betz.

The single-story police substation provides a central hub for campus safety and security, way finding and parking permitting. The facility encompasses a reception area, conference room, office areas, and a secure suspect processing area.  These spaces are organized along the building’s perimeter to provide a welcoming, well-lit area that maximizes natural daylight. The terra cotta façade helps tie the new facility to the look and feel of the existing buildings on campus.

The roof grid system uses modular panels for ease of installation, roof access and maintenance. A green screen, designed to achieve the look of a vertical garden, covers the west elevation of the parking structure. The vegetation usedcontributesto the passive thermal and natural ventilation design.

The xeriscape plants incorporated into the roof system significantly reduce the need for stormwater infrastructure conveyance and retention systems. They also help remove impurities from storm-water runoff, while reducing maintenance costs for filtration systems.

Additionally, the green roof and wall systems help reduce the heat island effect and complement the benefits of the pervious pavement used in the parking area. The green screen on the west elevation of the parking structure further contributes to lower ambient heat gain, both within the police substation and the new parking structure.

Police Station lowres

The tower element serves as a solar chimney — a passive solar strategy used to create a flow of natural ventilation.  The top of the towerheats up, and louvers provide for air exhaust at the high point. Inside the building, exposed concrete walls and ceiling create a thermal mass that can store heat during the day, and release it during the night to keep the building comfortable during operating hours.

An array of other sustainable design features factor into the building’s LEED Platinum level of sustainable design, including the terra cotta rain screens that create a vented facade and increase building envelope energy efficiency; curtain walls that have horizontal exterior siding on the south, vertical fins on the east, and a large glazed area facing north; operable windows that provide natural ventilation; Solatube skylights that capture natural light and enhance occupants’ work conditions; use of reclaimed water for flushing toilets; and suspended ceiling “clouds” that enhance acoustical performance while serving as reflectors for daylight.

Still more green features include “cradle to cradle” certified finish materials, renewable and recycled flooring, and low-emitting casework materials.  The reception area of the police substationshowcases a recessed, interactive flat screen panel that informs visitors of the building’s sustainable features, and reinforces Miramar College’s sustainability goals.

The site of the four-story, above-grade Miramar College parking structure,constructed with poured-in-place concrete, incorporates drought-tolerant landscaping and high-efficiency irrigation systems that use reclaimed water.

The police substation and parking structure project was part of the District’s $1.555 billion Propositions S and N construction program, which is providing for new instructional and career training facilities, major renovations, campus-wide infrastructure projects, and parking and public safety enhancements at City, Mesa and Miramar colleges, plus six Continuing Education campuses.

“The McCarthy team successfully completed this projectahead of schedule, while expertly incorporatinga number of innovative sustainable elements thatallowed us to achieve LEED Platinum Certification of the police substation,” said David Umstot, Vice Chancellor of Facilities Management for the District. “The project sets new sustainability standards among educational facilities in southern California.”

National architectural firm Harley Ellis Devereaux, with offices in San Diego, served as the architect for the police substation, and International Parking Design provided architectural services on the parking structure component. Jessen Wright Structural Engineers was the structural engineer; Randall Lamb Associates, electrical engineer; SC Engineers,mechanical engineer; and Burkett & Wong Engineers, civil engineer.  Schmidt Design Group served as the landscape architect.

Gafcon, Inc. serves as the program manager for the Propositions S and N construction bond program.

The San Diego Community College District previously contracted McCarthy to build its new $28.9 million, 50,000-square-foot Allied Health Education and Training Facility at San Diego Mesa College,which achieved LEED Gold Certification in 2010. McCarthy is currently building the new Math and Science Building at San Diego Mesa College, with the project team targeting LEED Silver Certification.

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About McCarthy:

McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. is the nation’s 10th largest domestic general contractor (Engineering News-Record, May 2011) and the largest educational facilities builder in California (California Construction, April 2010). The firm has been building in the education market for the last 50 years. Committed to the construction of high performance buildings, the company has managed construction or built more than 300 K-12 school projects nationwide, totaling more than $2 billion in construction value, and nearly 100 higher education projects on more than 50 campuses. In addition to San Diego, McCarthy has offices in Newport Beach, Sacramento and San Francisco, Calif.; Phoenix; Las Vegas; St. Louis; Dallas; Houston; and Atlanta.  McCarthy is 100 percent employee-owned.  More information about the company is available online at

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