December 12, 2007 > The far side of the hill
The far side of the hill
Folksongs, stories, legends and mythical stories are replete with references to the "far side of the hill." This place is lush with plentiful accoutrements for easy living. The grass is greener here and all elements of nature work harmoniously to create a heavenly environment. Although the ultimate realization of this "green" land has yet to be achieved, an attempt to capture some of its attributes exists at the soon to be opened Newark Ohlone College campus. In fact, the campus anticipates "platinum" status - the highest rating possible - under the LEED(r) (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building rating system devised by the US Green Building Council. There are only 48 platinum facilities in the world and no other college campus at that level.
Recently, Ohlone College President/Superintendent Douglas Treadway, granted an exclusive interview to Tri-City Voice to introduce the community to the new campus and its unique place within Ohlone College, the greater Tri-City community and as an international resource for environmentally sustainable research. Approaching the building on Cherry Street directly behind the playing field of Newark Memorial High School, it looks architecturally radiant but traditional until a visitor is given clues to what lies beneath the surface.
TCV: Is construction of this campus on schedule?
Treadway: Yes. We get the keys on December 12 and receive a Certificate of Occupancy and start moving in. Classes will begin in January. There were some obstacles but they have been overcome. This is the first geothermal project Turner Construction has ever done and they are the biggest construction company in the U.S. They like the result and are now recommending this to other companies.
TCV: How much energy will be created by the sustainable technology incorporated into this campus?
Treadway: Over 12 months, we will create one half of our energy needs. If the structure was one story, we could cover one hundred percent. During the summer, we will actually put some energy back into the grid, but winter months, due to shorter days will require additional energy. Geothermal "enthalpy" wheels moderate the temperature. Much of the infrastructure uses recycled materials and energy efficient design. The full-spectrum lighting is designed to dim and brighten to maintain a constant ambiance without shadows; if outside light is sufficient, the lights will not turn on at all.
TCV: What are "enthalpy" wheels?
Treadway: These are 12 foot diameter air-to-air heat exchangers that keep the building cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Air circulated through coils buried underground will moderate temperatures through this exchange. The air is continuously filtered and in motion, reducing dust to a minimum. Air quality will be exceptional so those with allergies and asthma should notice an immediate difference from outside air.
TCV: Will the Newark campus begin at 100 percent occupancy?
Treadway: Yes. Registration has already begun.
TCV: How will this campus be used?
Treadway: The concept is for the campus to be used by several student groups who will take classes as a block: Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday. A morning group will be in class from 8 a.m. - noon and use remaining hours, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m., for on-the-job training. Another group will reverse that schedule. Another group will meet for classes in the evenings. In the fall, we will begin weekend classes.
TCV: Have any changes been made to the initial design?
Treadway: We have already begun remodeling even before opening. A large grant was received to convert an area to a human simulation center for health sciences. An infant, woman and man mannequin will be hooked up to computers monitoring blood pressure, air flow and other biological measurements. The mannequins will simulate live patients with all sorts of ailments or traumas the instructor would like to demonstrate. Actions to alleviate the problem will be recorded by computer and a debriefing will allow all students to review the results.
TCV: What programs will be available at the Newark campus?
Treadway: Ohlone Allied Health programs will include an R.N. program, Certified Respiratory Therapist, Physical Therapy Assistant, Pharmacy Technician, Phlebotomy/ Medical Assistant and a new course of study just being designed called Environmental Health Specialist. Basic core curriculum classes such as psychology, general chemistry, biology, English, history will also be held on the Newark campus so classes necessary for a degree will be available at this campus. Some classes taught at the Fremont campus will be available through interactive computer and real time televised attendance. Students will be in a virtual classroom with the professor. All distance education - classroom/home instruction - will be moved to this site.
We are asking industry to think about full service partnerships, helping with curriculum and on-site internships to provide clinical experience for our students in biomedical, medical technology and solar technology. It is a challenge to find clinical sites for our nursing students.
TCV: Will laptop computers be required of students?
Treadway: All students will be required to use a laptop computer. Those who can afford them will need to bring them to class and those who cannot afford a computer will be provided with them through grants and loans. The entire campus is designed for wireless access.
TCV: Will other services be available at this campus?
Treadway: Many will be here but scaled down. There will be a cafeteria, counseling services, registration, admissions and financial aid. Some other services may be here 'on demand' or though shuttling between campuses. The Newark campus will not have a library. Instead, the building will house an Academic Resource Center where everything will be online.
TCV: Will the community have use of the campus?
Treadway: Yes. There are three rooms for corporate training, a conference room, fitness center and amphitheater as well as other services available for the public.
TCV: Has this campus made a significant impact on the city of Newark?
Treadway: It should encourage high tech companies to locate nearby. The city also sees this in a traditional light as an amenity that will attract residential development. This area, previously viewed as commercial development, is now leaning toward residential with a golf course nearby. The college has been part of the reason for this change. A's personnel have also met with us to see how we can collaborate since their proposed development is less than a mile from here.
TCV: Will the Western Baseball League, a minor league, play here?
Treadway: I am hoping they will. The preliminary negotiations have begun. They just purchased two minor league teams in Canada and hope to create a Bay Area team within two years. A baseball stadium would be built on the Newark campus and used by the minor league team during the summer and Ohlone would use it during the school year. They would install lights and bleachers and be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the field year round. The stadium would be available for other events as well, possibly concerts and graduation ceremonies.
The plaintive cry of balladeers, "Oh I wonder if it's greener on the far side of the hill?" will soon be answered, in part, with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday morning, January 28, and formal dedication proceedings on January 31 at noon as part of a nation-wide Global Warming teach-in called Focus the Nation. Ohlone College hopes to focus national attention on its Newark campus dedication and environmental achievements. Dr. Treadway notes that an indicator of Ohlone's appeal is an international environmental conference, including visitors from India and China, scheduled for the weekend prior to these ceremonies. He adds, "It has been fun to be part of this project which has evolved even through the construction phase."