Developers incorporate environmental design in warehouse projects
Photo by Northern Nevada Business Weekly
Step foot in the Randa Logistics building in the Gateway Commerce Center in Tahoe Reno Industrial Center and it appears typical of the giant distribution centers in the area: long aisles of tall shelving with people scurrying about in a well-lit, air-conditioned building.
Appearances can be deceiving.
Despite the comfortable air temperature, it's not actually air conditioned; and most of the lighting is natural sunlight.
SJS Commercial Real Estate developed the 525,000-square-foot Randa building in Nevada with energy efficiency and sustainability built into the plans from the beginning, reports Northern Nevada Business Weekly.
"We have a lot of sunshine here," said Marc Siegel, president of SJS. "Let's put it to work."
The building is LEED gold certified, which means the U.S. Green Building Council (USGC) audited the project from design through completion for the use of techniques and systems that reduce energy use, waste, and pollutants, and provides a better environment for those using the building.
Siegel, who hails from Chicago and has been a developer for 27 years, moved to the Reno area four years ago for this project. At first, he faced a lot of questions about his energy-efficient plans, but once others caught the vision, they were excited to take on the challenges.
"There's a lot of great potential and energy in Reno and a lot of people to work with who share our vision for energy savings and sustainable development," said Siegel, who now calls Nevada home.
The Randa building is not the only energy-efficient construction at the TRI Center.
Schluter Systems, a supplier of tile installation products, uses geothermal technology for heating and cooling its 95,000-square-foot distribution building, as well as passive solar technology. The company also incorporates recycled material into the manufacturing of its products and reuses and recycles its scraps. It's also LEED gold certified.
Sustainable construction is catching on. Many other large buildings in the area are LEED certified, including University of Nevada, Reno, Peavine Hall (LEED gold); the Patagonia Distribution Center (gold); Zulily Distribution Center (silver); and Urban Outfitters in Stead (silver).
Siegal explained that the Randa building has three main features that set it apart from other large buildings: light harvesting, a fully insulated building envelope and a mechanical system for airflow
Skylights take up 2 percent of the ceiling, which is an industry standard, but they include photo cells that capture and enhance the natural light.
The building includes banks of LED lights to supplement the natural light when needed. When sunlight provides all the light needed, the LED lights automatically shut off, except for a minimum number required to stay lit to meet safety regulation. Motion sensors also control LED lighting so, sunlight or no sunlight, they are only on when required.
The lighting feature alone saves about $125,000 a year in energy bills, according to an independent audit by NV Energy, he said. The savings is passed on to the tenant.
To keep summer heat and winter cold outside, and the inside comfortable, rigid insulation fully covers the envelope of the building, including above the roof deck, Siegel said.
The well-insulated envelope allows the third feature, the mechanical system for airflow, to do its job more efficiently.
The system recirculates already heated air or naturally cooled air, and circulates it throughout the building leaving little temperature variation. The worker getting boxes from the top of the shelves near the 32-foot ceiling will experience little difference in temperature from the person walking down the aisles.
The building has other environmental features such as xeriscaping, detention ponds and soil composition to encourage stormwater to soak into the soil before running off carrying pollutants into stream zones.
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Companies: U.S. Green Building Council