Wendel Associate Principal Raymond Johnson noted that the amount of required ventilation at transportation facilities shifts around designs, and directly impacts consumption levels and plans. Hardly quiet buildings, there are considerations to cancel out some of the noise “pollution” from the vehicles coming and going, sometimes at odd hours in residential communities.
As facilities that need and use lots of water, many are addressing this with simple things like rain gardens that circle a property, and more involved options like water reclaim systems from their bus wash areas, Horton says.
Wendel’s Muse touched on heat recovery equipment synced with HVAC units as nice to have, but something that can nearly double the size and cost of a heating and cooling unit upfront.
On that far end of efficiency is the new maintenance and administration center for the South Bend Public Transportation Corp., a gray, white and beige site layered in windows and sloping roofs in northern Indiana. Certified LEED Platinum, the first multi-use transit facility in the United States to notch that level of efficiency, the building ran with the design team on green options, like rain water capturing and cooling systems that run without using ozone depleting chemicals, says architect Anderson.
Green Not Always Visible
As with design in other buildings, there is importance in what is not visible.
Johnson at Wendel says there are architectural obstacles in allocating space at these sites for things like the separation and burial of fuel tanks, and minimalizing long-term environmental disturbances.
Layout of some structures also considers future growth or sustainability efforts, says Anderson. Even at buildings registering high marks in green design, Anderson says there is an emphasis on more flexible walls, roofs and outside space “in a much greater way than we’ve seen before.” It’s both an acknowledgement that more can be done or could be coming down the pipeline, as well as the “economic pinch” many publicly funded transit operations run on.
Then there are sustainable elements that make vast improvements in-house, but may not go for the full recognition or certification. Horton said that plenty of facilities are taking on smaller revamps or initiatives in the name of sustainability.
“Owners recognize the value in sustainable building, such as energy savings, improved indoor air quality and reduced waste, but sometimes LEED certification is an extra that doesn’t fit the budget or the client’s goals,” he says.
Green Power for the People
And what good are sustainability and design if you don’t consider the people who will use it?
Throughout its 300,000 square feet, the Wealthy Operations Center in Michigan has a number of features that marry conscientious aesthetics with environmentally sound practices. Natural light pours into many corners of the center, and aspects like fast-acting overhead doors both preserve energy and shut off lousy weather from drivers and other workers. Horton, from Progressive AE, says that these types of features are just as critical as those in the sustainability specs.
“A bus storage and maintenance facility is often approached as just a space to house and maintain buses,” Horton says. “However, it is important for clients to expand their design view to recognize that people are still a priority. ‘People’ costs are one of the largest expenditures of any operation, so keeping employees healthy and happy can have a direct impact on the bottom line.”
Wendel architects Johnson and Muse point to efforts to “maximize occupant health and comfort” at the Cinder Bed Road Maintenance Facility in Lorton for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, such as a sloped, operable roof that lends itself to ventilation and glazing on bay doors to capitalize on natural day light.
And the people-side of that sustainability goal even shows up in the form of handcrafted jewelry sold and recycled glass beads sold on rubber tire floors. The Santa Monica, Calif. Big Blue Bus system tacked on a retail store that is green to the hilt, a compliment that green public transit plans established in 1992 that, most recently, included a new, 66,000-square-foot maintenance facility. Linda Gamberg, acting customer relations administrator for the city’s bus service, says the tokens and trinkets for sale help give users and transit enthusiast “a glimpse into our philosophy.”