Just when you thought nice weather was headed our way we were hit with another rain storm this week which put our QSP and QSD crew into high gear again. One of our monitoring projects that has had quite a bit of recognition the past few years for their storm water re-use elements, and for being a net-zero recycling facility, is the El Cerrito Recycling and Environmental Resource Center in El Cerrito, California. CSW|ST2 provided pre, post, and during storm inspections as well as weekly sight observations of the construction activities to ensure conformance with the erosion and sediment control measures that were outlined in our Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan.
El Cerrito Recycling & Environmental Resource Center

The recycling center itself, which achieved a LEED Platinum level,  is a re-use of a former quarry and has occupied the site since 1972.  It was started by the E.C. ology group as a way to convince local citizens to view recycling as a daily habit and since the quarry was being used as a local dump the site seemed to already display its destiny. Fast forward to 2011 the architects, Noll & Tam, used the concept of the circular form of the quarry as a starting point to develop the unique round-about system to maximize the number of dumpsters in the new design. As a reinforcement to the core concept of the center being an resource center Noll & Tam installed an 11,000 gallon water tower that collects water from the operational facility roof which is then filtered and used in the grey water system to support native landscaping and water for toilets in the facilities. The 10 kilowatts of solar also provide enough energy to power all the buildings plus 30% of all the facilities energy needs.

El Cerrito Recycling & Environmental Resource Center
Additional design components such as drought tolerant landscaping and treatment planters like the one shown above help to promote water quality and reuse throughout the entire site.

El Cerrito Recycling & Environmental Resource Center

One of the highlights of the center, and one that I've personally used on a few occasions, is the Exchange Zone where volunteers help to organize a collection of books, bicycles, and other reusable items that you can browse through and exchange for items that you've brought. The center has a long history with the community but with the recent improvements and upgrades it's become an education in how a recycling center can connect a community to its history, while moving forward and expanding the idea of reuse as a viable option. This is one project that definitely practices what it preaches.