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Building Green 2004

March 11, 2004

Renovated buildings can go for the gold, too

  • With creative thinking, liabilities can become assets

    Seattle police support
    Rendering courtesy of DKA
    An old coffee-roasting plant and a meatpacking building on Airport Way South are being converted for Seattle police support. The $32.5 million project is expected to earn a LEED gold rating.

    The renovation of a coffee-roasting plant and a former meatpacking facility is set to be completed next month, creating a 200,000-square-foot support facility for the Seattle Police Department and Fleet and Facilities Department.

    DKA led the design team in the renovation, alteration and seismic repair of buildings A and C, as well as site improvements between the buildings.

    These are the newest renovations on the city-owned campus, and are on track to receive a LEED gold rating. The city requires all its new building projects to achieve a LEED silver rating.

    One strategy to achieve LEED gold was to take building or site liabilities and turn them into assets.

    For example, the site is in a tidal mudflat zone in the industrial area just south of downtown. The first floor of Building A, the former meatpacking plant, was at grade when it was built early in the last century. Subsequent filling and regrading of the area raised the level of the street to the second floor of the building. The high water table beneath the building required that more than 300 gallons of water per hour be pumped into the storm sewer to avoid flooding the first floor. Water from the storm sewer combined into the sanitary sewer and was treated unnecessarily.

    A water reclamation system was designed to capture a portion of this wasted water and use it to flush toilets, wash fleet vehicles and irrigate landscaping. This system will reduce the demand for municipal water and reduce the volume of water discharged into the municipal sewage system. Over 1 million gallons of municipal water will be saved every year. This innovation was an important part of achieving project sustainability goals.

    Other sustainable site improvements included landscaped bioswales in the parking area to reduce surface runoff. New deciduous trees will provide shade and reduce heat generated by asphalt radiation during the summer.

    Grass patches around the buildings were removed and replaced with native plants with low water requirements. English ivy was removed because it chokes out native plants, and because its seeds are eaten by birds and dispersed to other areas.

    Old materials, new design

    The 2001 Nisqually earthquake caused substantial damage. Seismic repairs have been treated as a holistic part of the design aesthetic for Buildings A and C.

    By retaining as many of the existing building components as possible, the team was able to reduce the need for new materials. The concrete tilt-up panel walls on Building C have been retained in the new design, but have been tied together at the top with steel channels to maintain the integrity of the wall-roof diaphragm. The glu-lam beam roof framing members were also retained, but new wood roof purlins and plywood sheathing was required.

    Certified lumber was specified and contributes to the gold LEED rating. About $250,000 of certified lumber was purchased.

    A new floor slab on top of the existing slab was required in Building C. Concrete with 20 percent fly ash content has been specified to make this sustainable.

    The buildings have been designed to meet the needs of various city departments for photo labs, offices and support spaces, a training facility, classrooms, locker rooms, storage areas and interior parking for fleet vehicles.

    The program required an increase in usable space for tenants. To accommodate this without expanding the footprint or going outside the building envelope, new steel mezzanines with recycled content were added to a high-bay space, adding approximately 28,000 square feet to the building.

    95 percent recycled

    Some sustainable design elements dealt more with human health and comfort than materials and construction methods.

    Extensive natural lighting is used in the office areas, as well as the warehouse storage areas. In addition, bicycle racks and showers are being provided to encourage tenants to limit their use of cars for commuting.

    Other design approaches to achieve a LEED gold rating include specifying recycled and locally manufactured building products whenever possible.

    Salvageable building materials included structural heavy timber from the roof, doors, frames, windows, casework, ceiling tiles, office furniture, partitions and equipment. These components were creatively incorporated into the new design, saving them from landfills.

    Another recycling project was the asphalt parking area, which was at the end of its life and required replacement. Rather than removing and disposing of the material, a new process was specified that grinds up the asphalt, processes it on site and reapplies it as a base for the new asphalt. Ninety-five percent of the construction waste was recycled.

    Efforts to reduce energy consumption included lighting and HVAC systems. The warehouse bays have sensors that activate lights when a forklift or person approaches the aisle. The HVAC discharges waste heat into adjoining interior parking areas.

    Building C has a raised access floor that will increase user comfort and reduce energy consumption. The system allows users to adjust air registers to suit personal comfort levels.

    Model of sustainability

    When completed and occupied this April, the new police-support facility will be a model for sustainable design for renovations and reuse.

    Many materials were salvaged for reuse, 95 percent of the construction waste was diverted from landfills and energy consumption was reduced by 20 percent. The project will use less water, saving millions of gallons and diverting millions more from sewage treatment.

    This concerted effort has provided a durable, attractive, state-of-the-art facility for the city of Seattle, and an example of how existing buildings can achieve LEED gold.

    Project team members include Turner Construction (general contractor/construction manager), Haozous Engineering (civil), Peterson Strehle Martinson (structural), Wood/Harbinger (electrical/mechanical) and Susan Black and Associates (landscape architect).

    Marc Jenefsky is a LEED-accredited principal at DKA, a Seattle planning, architectural and interior design firm. John McWilliams is the assistant project manager and construction administrator for the police-support facility project.

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