“We try to look at ways that water can get back into the ground naturally vs. controlling that in a different way. There are a lot of different ways to do it, but you have to make sure that that tradeoff at times doesn’t negatively affect the building,” Beachy says. “Some pervious pavements can’t handle bus traffic very well; in that case you can’t have that tradeoff. You can’t use that permeable pavement because it won’t last long and bus traffic can be tough on surfaces. That’s something we’re always carefully monitoring. You’re always looking at the positives and negatives of anything like that, but when it comes to say a pedestrian plaza or something like that, it’s very easy to accommodate.”
Lighting options —both interior and exterior — is an area that can really reduce energy cost. Kerr Adler poses this question: “Do you really need to add all these extra light bulbs or can you design your building in a way that makes use of the natural light surrounding?”
The answer is simple. You don’t need to be adding all the extra light bulbs.
“That’s a way to kind of take a step back and think about what is the context in which we are doing the facility, what are the natural attributes that we can tap into that would help create a healthier work environment, but also, quite honestly, cut back on our operations and maintenance costs,” Kerr Adler explains.
When you can reduce the number of lights that are turned on in a facility, or even lights in outdoor areas, you save electricity, Beachy explains. “The more natural light you bring in, the less you need artificial light potentially and you’re always trying to have that tradeoff between the two.”
“There’s a lot of emphasis on day lighting and more passive solar as opposed to not renewable energy,” says David Taylor, CNU, HDR Engineering Inc. senior vice president, national director, Sustainable Transportation Solutions. “For example, L.A. is doing renewable energy for its operations and maintenance facilities so they can actually generate more power and then put it out onto the grid.”
Adelman says using natural light in all areas — maintenance, administrative and in intermodal stations where passengers are waiting — is important. “You’re kind of taking away from that feeling of being in a very closed-up structure and having that connection to the outside,” she says.
Beachy says there are a few ways to add more natural light, particularly in the maintenance bay. He says it starts with glazing. Wendel Companies also tries to incorporate large north-facing windows. This way the light coming in is not direct sunlight, which can be bothersome.
“One other thing you can incorporate is a white reflective maintenance floor. As the natural light comes in, it hits the floor and then reflects up. Where that goes, a lot of the time when you’re working on a bus the mechanics are under the bus and they have task lights under there and the task lights aren’t always efficient. When you’re bringing in natural light and it’s bouncing off the floor under the bus, it’s providing them additional light,” Beachy adds.
Wendel is currently working on a project in which there is an opportunity to use a hybrid of solar and wind energy in the exterior lighting, Adelman says. “You can capture the energy on a battery and then store it for when it’s needed. It’s really a great thing, especially when there are always security concerns where you have to have lighting that is really going to affect your energy; this is a great way to offset that,” she says.
With solar thermal, that’s one opportunity to use a solar thermal system to heat water. There’s a solar thermal wall that can be used, and these types of walls as air comes in it warms that air and it takes a little bit of the load off the HVAC system during the heating season.
On the Construction Site
Construction can create a lot of waste, but it doesn’t all need to end up in a landfill. There are a number of ways to minimize the waste that results from a construction project. Kerr Adler says it’s important to reduce idle times of the construction equipment.
“Think about how you’re sequencing construction activity and when the vehicles are on the site and operating, looking at doing hybrid or rebuilding the engines to limit emissions,” Kerr Adler says.
She points to a project at Chicago’s O’Hare airport as an example. “What Chicago O’Hare Airport did on their construction requirements has been pretty robust. I would expect some of that — because contractors work across modes — is going to be moving more into the transit arena and the transit industry,” she says. “They were pretty stringent on requiring certain types of emissions on construction vehicles and the only way you could engage in work on the project was literally to rebuild all your engines or buy new equipment. It was a very hard core — you’ve got to do this to do work for us, and we’re serious about it.”