The American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop in Seattle, Wash., this summer provided transportation professionals with best practices and policies in sustainable public transportation. Speakers discussed examples that highlighted incorporating sustainability into transit system’s planning, construction and operations.
One session included information on the free elements in sustainable design. The project looked at here is the East Valley Operations and Maintenance Facility, a 250-bus facility in Tempe, Ariz. It is owned and operated by the cities of Tempe and Scottsdale and Valley Metro. The facility is on a 23-acre site and has 75,600 square feet of maintenance space, 7,100 square feet of fuel and wash space and 19,650 square feet of administration operations space. Construction of the facility has an anticipated completion date of August 31, 2007.
Ken Anderson, senior associate with RNL provides information about this project. “You have to think comprehensively when you design facilities,” he says, explaining that all of the elements in a design are, in a way, related.
Looking at sites that offer flexibility in building orientation is important. If a site is oddly shaped it may be difficult to squeeze everything in and you aren’t able to orient the buildings in the best possible way.
“Owners and clients and municipalities need to remember to look at sites that are not just based on the size of site they need, but where exactly is that.” Anderson says. Is the location close to employees? With buses coming and going, how far do they have to travel? Anderson mentions, “If you find an ideally sized site but it is 25 miles away from the area that your employees are going to be traveling to do their work, then you’ve got built-in mileage issues.” This “windshield time” can add up from a financial standpoint as well as an environmental one. “There is financial gain to thinking of site selection,” he emphasizes.
Building Orientation In Arizona, the biggest environmental impact the design has to consider is impact from the sun. Most of that impact is on the east and west directions because in the summertime, when the sun is lowest, it shines directly into windows on the east and west side. The ways openings in the building are orientated in relation to the sun are critical.
The administration and maintenance buildings are both oriented linear, east to west, with windows and the glazing on the north and south. “In doing that we can get a lot of natural light into the area but we don’t have to deal with direct sunlight, which translates into heat gain into those offices,” Anderson says. On the maintenance building, the bays open up to the north and the south for the same reason. He explains, “As bay doors are open and workers are working on buses, they don’t have to deal with direct heat gain from sun coming in, or even glare.
“Every environment is different,” Anderson stresses. “In our case, [the sun] was really the driving force that we had to deal with and the result is the way we oriented the buildings down here.”
“Where’s the best view?” is what a lot of people tend to think about first Anderson says. “Think about where you’re placing openings in your walls so that they are most strategically placed in respect to not only the view,” he stresses, but also the environment.
“We tried to place the glazing in a way that it would be conducive to getting good views and getting natural light in the spaces, but also would work well with our particular environmental features,” he says. As for the places where they needed openings where they wouldn’t ideally put them, they would incorporate other features. “We added some elements, some architectural and natural elements like landscaping to try and shade that glass so that we could still have the glass where we needed to,” Anderson says. An architectural element that provides shading around the several areas, including the administration building and over the employee break area is fabric and steel canopies. “The light-colored material helps to reduce what they call the heat island effect,” he says.