Benign Design: Part Two

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By: Jim Rosenberg

This story is the second half of an E&P story published Tuesday.


… and southern California

Almost two years ago, Dallas-based Belo announced it would invest more than $100 million in new offices, production plant, equipment, and storage facilities for The Press-Enterprise, its 185,053-circulation daily in Riverside Calif.

Anticipating a mid-March move-in to a new headquarters over the course of three weekends, the phased project includes preservation of a historic former church on property the newspaper acquired in 1985 while under Hays family ownership. Unlike the Star, which built a plant on property adjacent to its headquarters, the Press-Enterprise is erecting its new office building adjacent its plant, which it will expand.

In five stories enclosing 150,000 square feet, the $38 million Howard H. Hays Media Center will feature advanced technologies to support all news, editorial, advertising, sales and marketing, technology, production support, and administrative functions for the daily, its Web site, The Business Press and the weeklies La Prensa and El D.

On a site the Press-Enterprise has occupied for more than 50 years and adjacent to its existing buildings and production plant, the project brings together employees now housed in three buildings. The project includes “LEED elements in the design and construction, but we’re not seeking LEED certification,” says Belo Facilities Planning Vice President John Irvin.

California mandates LEED for state-owned buildings and has some local measures that promote green building, but no statewide tax incentive for such projects. “The only state that currently has such an incentive is Oregon,” says a USGBC spokesperson. Some communities, says Sherick, offer credits (including past-track permitting) or penalties (taxes, scrutiny) based on numerical LEED scores showing what was done to meet or exceed certain criteria.

Barber adds another consideration: “Insurance companies are in some case giving better rates to green buildings.” The reason, Bandy-Zalatoris explains, is that more-integrated design and superior components create buildings with fewer problems, such as mold.

Current Press-Enterprise facilities run north-south on the west side of the property. The building is going up on the northeast corner of the plant site, very close (probably 40 to 50 feet) to the plant itself, according to Irvin. Much time was devoted to planning an optimal building orientation. “The building was situated so that we could grow the production facility in the future” in all directions, he said.

The design treatment had not been finalized as of early October. It had not been determined whether the north wall of the press hall would be retained. The project’s first phase is a packaging department expansion onto purchased adjacent land – required because some of the department’s existing space will fall under the new building’s footprint. The second phase will see the headquarters built. The third phase will demolish the older offices, which date from the 1950s and ’60s. “We’re studying the4 demolition issue right now,” says Irvin.

As for the church, Irvin say he understands the structure to be a desanctified Mormon temple designated a state historic site. “Currently the newspaper’s marketing department is in it,” he says. The old church’s role after marketing joins the other departments is not yet clear, though a museum of the newspaper and an assembly area for tour groups are possibilities.

Project architect Damon Dusterhoft at LPA Inc., Irvine, Calif., did not respond to inquiries. A brief section devoted to the project on his firm’s Web site describes a headquarters enclosed by a high-performance envelope and high-reflectance roof, clad in terra cotta panels, reflecting the roof tiles of area historic structures, an internally illuminated 100-foot tower, and an “armature” connecting the headquarters to the existing plant and providing a large area for murals.

Irvin says glass and steel also will show on the new building’s facade. As for the armature, Sam Precie, the newspaper’s facilities services director, said “that portion of the project … is still under review.” Alternatives, he says, are an open plaza or a glass-enclosed breezeway between the employee entrance to the new office building and the main lobby of the renovated plant.

An outdoor orangery with potted ornamental trees also is planned, to join the office building to the old church.

LEED elements within the main building will include natural and recycled materials, “intelligent construction technologies,” indirect lighting, screens, fins and other sun-control features, dimming systems, high-efficiency air-handling and low-flow plumbing, according to LPA. Outside, landscaping will feature drought-tolerant plantings and high-efficiency irrigation.

Materials examples include higher-cost, formaldehyde-free wooden millwork and carpeting throughout the building that is entirely recyclable and “significantly more expensive than standard carpet,” says Precie, who joined the paper just over a year ago from Saint-Gobain Containers, where he served as engineering and facilities manager.

In addition to using building materials with recycled/recyclable content, the project includes construction-waste-management practices and recycling of operating waste (see ‘Waste streams and Disposal Options for Newspapers). “Initially, we were looking at doing quite a bit of recycling,” says Irvin, adding that the paper’s waste handler is a recycler that may take advantage of opportunities the project presents.

Irvin said the north-south architectural fins may block some sunlight entering windows at an angle, and that an “eyebrow” extending about six feet out from the roof will help shade upper-floor windows. Inside, fabric shades will screen light during certain times of day.

With the changes, says Precie, the working environment “will be greatly improved.” New offices, a new telecom system, workstations with better displays and a full-service cafeteria instead of a small kitchen will all contribute, he says.

Occupancy sensors will control fluorescent office lighting. Some employees now work in a basement and on first and second floors with little light from windows. The new workplace, he adds, will have “abundant” natural light, with “daylight for 75% of our spaces or higher, which qualifies us for an LEED [certification] point.”

Natural lighting, often in conjunction with software-controlled dimming or shading, is but one measure that can improve workplace and natural environments while reducing operating costs.

It’s safe to say that everything in some way and to some degree affects energy consumption — from people to potted plants, air compressors to air conditioners, and doors, walls, windows, roofs, everything using electricity, almost anything chilled or heated, moistened or dried, loaded or unloaded, shipped or received.

Energy efficiency

Perhaps the action with the greatest environmental benefit isn’t even recognized as such. Energy efficiency has become such an obvious business decision because the savings are calculable and often substantial.

Sherick says that while in consultations the initial goal is often something like a 10% reduction in energy consumption, it is not unreasonable to shoot for as much as 50% in some cases.

Five years ago, Philadelphia Newspapers was told its Schuylkill plant could save over $125,000 on power bills if it if implemented all identified efficiency measures (E&P, Dec. 10, 2001). It proved to be a low estimate. Within eight hours a consultant found six- figure energy-conservation savings – an amount that doubled after another eight-hour inspection. Cost-saving conservation measures ranged from fixing leaky air-compressor couplings on presses (almost 2.4 kilowatt-hours per year, or close to $120,000) to lighting retrofits (that improved illumination and cut the electricity bill by over $10,000 annually).

Smaller papers, too, have cut thousands from costs by implementing energy-saving measures, which also directly or indirectly reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Pennsylvania and other states, utilities, and the federal government have programs that help pay for the sort of energy audits used by PNI. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s longstanding Green Lights program, which provides technical aid to businesses changing their lighting, typically can halve participants’ lighting bills.

Switching from incandescent to fluorescent lighting or upgrading to thinner, more-efficient T5 fluorescent lamps are among the low-hanging fruit in energy conservation, But even there, with newer technologies such as more-sophisticated controls, says Ted Beer, Media Facilities Group Principal at Burns & McDonnell, there is still room for conservation and savings. And the same applies to heating and cooling systems efficiency, he adds.

Another measure, load shedding, aims to control usage, avoiding demand peaks when energy costs more. In many areas, newspapers an use their production schedules to draw power when it costs the least.

With a group specializing in energy audits, Beers’ firm has two confidential preliminary and competitive studies under way for newspaper companies — one “a nationwide study for a newspaper group” and the other at “an individual building.” In the deregulated power market, the company also will negotiate on behalf of clients for the best utility rates. “One of our main businesses is designing and building large utility plants, “says Beers. “So we’ve got experience all the way up.”

Barber says Forum ordinarily will look at the frequency and duration of a client’s power outages and consider the amount of power needed before recommending back-up batteries, generators or a second line from the same or different electrical substation (with on-site transfer switch). “Sometimes it’s just not practical to have a second line or source of power,” says Rosati, noting that power to make plates may be sufficient when there is a back-up printing site.

Where power companies were once more willing to support a second line, adds Martin, today they see no benefit for themselves in doing so. So newspapers, he says, have looked to alternatives such as internal generation. They also may rent or lease large generators, but need to negotiate such deals in advance of their need, be able to physically accommodate the devices, and have suitable electrical connections.

Apart from sources and systems, a building’s design itself greatly influences energy consumption. The first area of defense in energy management, says Sherick is envelope design, the building’s efficiency as a basic container. With fit-out of a structure comes concerns for neither under- not-oversupplying energy-hungry lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and other services.

For the building itself, size obviously matters, but so does shape, to the extent that it affects footprint and surface area. A vertical automatic storage and retrieval system for example, keeps the total footprint small (but probably will require an energy-hungry automated storage and retrieval system).

The number of people and the time they spend working within a given area of a building also will affect heating and cooling decisions. While the level of illumination may need to remain constant, Sherick suggests that 72?F may amount to overheating or overcooling if it is maintained for just one person working for four hours or less.

A project that has to resist some natural conditions may be able to exploit others. But lot size or shape, terrain or even weather may make an otherwise preferrable straight-line process flow impractical. Window construction, size and placement will affect heating as well as lighting. So will dock coverage, where wind can quickly drive up heating bills.

Those all were important considerations at the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. “We are very cognizant of the wind and the weather patterns in that area,” says Rosati, “because it is very harsh.” Solutions at the docks, he says, can include heaters, seals and buffer spaces.

Besides costs and comfort associated with temperature, dock decisions can more directly influence operations by affecting humidity. With many publishers holding fewer newsprint rolls for shorter periods, says Martin, humidity is not the concern it once was for paper storage. Debates over paper-storage humidification and trust in roll’s vapor barriers continue, according to Sherick.

Press makers have had more and more stringent humidity requirements, says Barber. The press hall needs fairly high humidity; the mailroom also needs humidity, to avoid static electricity, “but nowhere near what the press hall requires,” says Sherick. Especially in certain seasons, Barber says, “you want to minimize the impact of the outside air” on inside operations.

But it’s a two-way relationship, because, at the same time, planning requires a clear understanding of equipment and how it will affect the plant. “Some presses might actually add more water to an interior environment,” says Barber. Sophisticated controls are available but expensive, adds Rosati.

Integrated energy systems

For any site considering on-site power generation, one possibility is a combined heat and power system. Also referred to as an integrated electrical system, the energy-conserving approach saves by using wasted energy created by gas-, diesel- or coal-fired electrical generation (see

“That waste heat is what you want to capture and reuse,” says Beer. Modular packages now available, he says, not only supply electricity, but also can supply room, water and process heat, make steam, dehumidify, and even chill water (part of which can be used to cool the system’s own combustion turbine intake to improve generator output and efficiency).

Ordinarily fueled by natural gas, they also can run on diesel fuel, “depending on the part of the country and [fuel] cost,” says Beer. “On top of that,” he adds, “overal energy costs … at actually cheaper.” ROI depends on equipment costs (which are higher than for electric-only systems) and usage, but higher energy costs of the last year or so have made such packages “quite attractive,” says Beer (whose company is working on such a system for the University of Chicago and two hospitals).

Beer acknowledges that such systems make sense only for larger sites, where they are most efficient. Nevertheless, he adds that as technologies improve, the size of operations able to justify the cost continues to come down. Beer says some programs that guarantee savings will pay for a retrofit will use those savings to finance or lease the equipment.

According to Beer, integrated energy systems are easily maintained and offer owners of large newspaper production plants control and reliability independent of local utilities.

Earth, wind and fire

At the same time that the industry has used vehicles fueled by natural gas, and bio-diesel engines and hybrid vehicles have become available, alternative sources of electrical power have yet to find a place at newspapers.

“I think you could find significant benefit from alternative energy sources,” says Sherick. But he adds that windmills and solar-cell panels, while possibly powering lighting, even some HVAC systems and office equipment, aren’t likely to keep presses rolling any time soon.

While insufficient to power a production plant, “they’re all useful … for specific areas,” agrees Beers, asking, however, if there will be payback, because “obviously cost is a factor.”

While not recommending that publishers detach their businesses from the local utility, Sherick says alternative sources can function regularly as an auxiliary rather than back-up systems. Even then, however, he returns to his outlook for environmentally conscious design in general: that investment in alternative sources probably will be limited to family-owned enterprises in tune with the local culture and environment.

And there is, after all, something absurdly incongruous about using the sun to power artificial light, or the wind to power artificial ventilation.
So, short of widespread adoption of those alternatives, Sherick observes that designs are in some respects reverting to an era of natural lighting and ventilation “as we become more energy aware.

He might have added heating.

Some measures should just be a matter of “common-sense good design” for architects, according to Dario Designs Inc. President Dario DiMare. Others are more a matter of uncommon luck.

Before considering technologies, materials, or design specifics, DiMare says a building’s orientation can have a major impact on energy conservation. The best part, he says, is that a publisher doesn’t have to worry about how long it will take to pay for itself.

To the extent that a site’s location and shape allow, truck docks should face south in areas with snowy winters, so that, as much as possible, the sun can do the work of people and plows.

Offices should face the opposite direction for two reasons, DiMare continues. Because buildings throughout much of North America are cooled for up to 10 months of the year, air conditioning should not be fighting the warming sunlight. Further, “north light is the best light for offices,” he says, “because there are no shadows or glare. Orientation can thereby reduce cooling (including that needed for extra lighting fixtures made unnecessary by the absence of shading and the combination of steadier outside light and inside lighting).

While sunshine and wind make limited contributions at best (none when there’s no sun or wind), the Earth is a reliable source of constant energy — not fuel, energy. And unlike solar and wind power, it’s more a matter of plumbing than materials science and electrical engineering.

A building’s grounds can be tapped for both cooling and heating. Because the year-round temperature remains almost constant only a few feet down, an underground duct of block or pipe can carry 50-55?F air into a building from a screened inlet near a property’s perimeter.

For a site that’s being excavated anyway, and with no refrigerant and compressor to buy, operate and maintain, there is little more cost than a fan, “because then you’re letting the Earth do the cooling for you,” says DiMare.

In a few lucky places, the Earth also can warm the water and air. In various locations, people have been bathing in and cooking with water from natural hot springs for thousands of year. Since an Italian system went on line in 1904, reservoirs of water heated by the Earth itself have been tapped to generate electricity by using steam or, indirectly, hot water to drive turbine generators.

“That area of the city had pretty hot soil,” DiMare recalls of initial planning work he did in Klamath Falls, Ore., for Pioneer Newspaper’s Herald and News. With Crater Lake to the north and the lava beds and Lassen Peak to the south, the geology underlying the small city makes for prime geothermal real estate.

When the White Pelican Hotel was erected in downtown Klamath Falls in 1911, it piped hot water from its own well. The hotel burned down 15 years later, but the Egyptian Revival Balsiger Building (see E&P, p. 54), built on the same site, was heated by the well water. Eventually a municipal utility was created from two other wells, from which 215?F groundwater passes through heat exchangers to deliver 180?F water to 14 public buildings and a dozen private buildings. (The system also installed tubing under downtown sidewalks to melt snow and ice.)

A now-empty car dealership, the landmark Balsiger Building was a strong candidate for the Herald and News’ new home, which would then have been able to make use of the city-supplied heating. When demands of the newspaper business and the historic structure proved incompatible, the Herald and News looked to a hillside greenfield site on the outskirts of Klamath Falls.

Drilling 400 feet into that site of its future headquarters and plant, The Herald and News struck water “well north of 200 degrees,” says Publisher Heidi Wright. The effort was “a little bit of a gamble,” she says, “because we’re really on the edge of the fault line.” Outlying areas, she adds, generally have to drill deeper to get water that’s not as hot.

“We are planning to use the well for heat in our building,” says Wright. To be complete by the end of March, the 35,000-square-foot structure will take delivery of a new press late next month. Press assembly begins in late winter and move-in is scheduled for mid-April, according to Wright.

After heating the building, extracted hot water will be returned to the aquifer, as state law requires. A re-injection well is now being drilled.


To read the first half of this article click here

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