New Requirements for Sustainable Commercial Buildings: Panda Express Ramona

Wylie Architecture Planning Interior Design, Inc., Carole Wylie – Architect

The Wright Construction Company, Inc., Steve Wright – Builder

The new Panda Express Ramona building on Main Street was designed with all of the current energy and environmental codes in mind. The site design incorporates high efficiency lighting, drought tolerant landscaping, and a 2600 square-feet and more than 3-feet-deep biofiltration basin that collects all of the stormwater run-off from any impervious surfaces on site and filters it through layers of planting, hardwood mulch, soil, sand, fine aggregate and gravel. The run-off is filtered of any pollutants before the water makes its way into the public system.

The building and interior also utilize energy efficient lighting and mechanical systems and two clean air parking spaces are designated and electrically equipped for future electrical vehicle charging stations. “Big Ass Fans” are provided in the central open dining area for natural cooling.

Prior to the current regulations for storm water filtration, the site design for commercial buildings typically directed the site run off toward the street and into the gutters which directed the water into the storm drains and eventually to the ocean. Under current code, the water is not to leave the site until it has been filtered of contaminants.

Architect Carole Wylie said, “I know we have to start somewhere, but the transition to new sustainability requirements is sometimes difficult. Construction products generally take a while to catch up to the newly enforced codes and sometimes rules of various departments during the plan check, permitting phase can conflict with each other creating delays and added expense.”

Builder Steve Wright found building the bio-retention basins “interesting” as he got a better sense of how the filtration process works.