Top designation for 150-employee center at Sonoma Mountain Village

[caption id="attachment_22126" align="alignleft" width="209" caption="Bike rack, air filtering and cooling system along with high-efficiency lighting all played a role in LEED platinum certification for Comcast at Sonoma Mountain Village"][/caption]

ROHNERT PARK – Months of reviewing, refitting and rethinking the way office buildings can operate in a sustainable fashion paid off in a big way for cable provider Comcast and Codding Construction.

Comcast's 35,000-square-foot Operations Center in the Sonoma Mountain Village earned the highest honor available from the U.S. Green Building Council for its interior: a LEED platinum certification.

"It's the first of its kind in the North Bay,'' said Codding Chief Sustainability Officer Geof Syphers, "and one of only six in the state."

To obtain the certification, attention had to paid to site location, employee transportation, materials reuse, air quality, lighting, water use and a host of construction details, all monitored from the planning stage.

Cotati-based LEED consultant Kemo reviewed the plans and as the work went along did tests to verify objectives were met, said Mr. Syphers.

"That was very unusual for a construction project. But by following the guidelines we were able to recycle 98 percent of building materials and cut water use in the building by 55 percent. That's water we gave back to the county," he said.

Codding Construction and Comcast, which was involved in the process from day one, went even further than LEED requirements. The building has a zero carbon footprint and generates zero waste.

All of its electricity comes from the Sonoma Mountain Village 1 megawatt solar installation.

The building houses 150 Comcast employees, and according to Comcast spokeswoman Melissa Vincelet, the process changed their way of thinking about energy use and recycling.

"When we decided to consolidate two operations into one, we wanted to be sensitive to our employees' needs. Our choice of locating in the green Sonoma Mountain Village came first. Then we all worked along with Codding to be as sustainable as possible.

"When it turned out that we qualified for platinum certification, all of us here at Comcast felt a personal sense of pride. We own the system," said Ms. Vincelet.

Having proven its green credentials by winning top honors on its first LEED project, Codding Construction will slow the pace on upcoming retrofits, said Mr. Syphers.

"The paperwork associated with the certification was time-consuming and costly. We believe we can do better for now by applying those resources to other green aspects of construction, such as waste and carbon footprint reduction," he said.

LEED is a work in progress and will become less difficult to administer and broader in scope in time, he emphasized.

"Right now its focus is on helping builders get better at sustainable construction. But we want to do better than better. Our goal at Sonoma Mountain is true sustainability, which goes much farther than LEED requirements," he said.