Images have been released of a design for the College of the Desert's new self-sustaining "Net Zero-plus" campus to be built at Palm Springs. The "Net Zero-plus" refers to the design's aim of generating more energy than it uses.

Central to HGA Architects and Engineers' master plan, and its Net Zero-plus aspirations, is the construction of a 60-acre acre solar farm directly next to the extended campus, which will sell surplus energy to Southern California Edison to provide energy to the Coachella Valley, creating a valuable revenue stream for the college.

The campus development itself will add 420,000 ft2 (39,000 m2) of academic space and an additional 230,000 ft2 (21,000 m2) of leasable space to be used as an incubator for start-up businesses as well as for academic purposes.

Visualization of a new courtyard at the campus (Image copyright HGA Architects and Engineers)

To maximize revenues from the solar farm, the energy consumption of the new campus will need to be kept to a minimum. To that end HGA says it is "researching and testing integrated systems to improve building performance, including facades that minimize heat gain, energy-efficient mechanical systems, photovoltaic solar panels, storm-water reservoirs for evaporative cooling, shading and day lighting techniques, wind protection, and desert landscaping with seasonal plantings." The detail is yet to be established, however.

HGA claims to have arranged the campus to create microclimates, using buildings as wind breaks. Perforated metal panels are to be employed, allowing through breezes but affording protection from stronger winds.

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