Energy-efficient industrial designs: City of Wichita transit van maintenance facility

Wichita transit van maintenance building

February 26, 2015 • Candace Wilson • Industrial, Sustainable Design

In 2009, the City of Wichita hired TESSERE Architecture, Inc. to design their first LEED certified building – a 23,000-square-foot, $4.2 million Transit Van Maintenance Facility. The facility was designed to store up to 28 paratransit vans and other department support vehicles, and includes four maintenance bays, an automated wash bay, a parts/storage area, a training area and conference space. Located adjacent to the existing administration, operations and maintenance facility on Waterman Street, the new facility serves as Wichita’s storage and maintenance center for its expanding fleet of paratransit vans.

Using an integrated design approach involving all participants—owner, architect, engineers, contractor, and users—a “green” building was designed and constructed for the City that includes many energy-efficient and energy-saving elements.

The facility was constructed of insulated precast concrete panels—thick, concrete wall sections that are cast integrally with insultation in a manufacturing facility and shipped to the site. The system provides continuous thermal insulation as defined by ASHRAE 90.1-2010 (the international energy standards handbook for buildings), as well as moisture vapor control and a building seal with better airtightness than wood-framed or metal walls. These panels also provide durability and low maintenance, and provide all the necessary backing for mounting tools and equipment without furring or blocking. High-performance insulated precast concrete walls have been estimated to reduce energy costs by up to 20 percent1 – and they have the added benefit of being aesthetically pleasing.

One feature of the building that has the potential to provide substantial energy and cost savings to the City is the sophisticated daylighting system. Through skylights, clearstory windows, and other strategically placed openings, high amounts of natural light are introduced throughout the entire building. Daylighting controls and photocells (electrical devices that convert the energy of light into electricity) automatically adjust the intensity of the artificial light based on the amount of natural light in the building at any given time. Sophisticated techniques were used to maximize and redirect natural light, such as light shelves, vision panels and eyebrows. Daylighting in the vehicle maintenance bays were designed to provide enough light through skylights and vision panels that “you don’t really need to have the lights on,” Jeff Weiford, Vice President of TESSERE and Project Manager for this project, mentioned during a recent walkthrough tour of the facility.

Wichita is very fortunate to have access to the plentiful Equus Beds aquifer at a time when many U.S. cities have been forced to limit how much water citizens can use. However, the supply is not infinite, and the importance of saving and reusing water was important to the client. The transit van maintenance facility was designed with many water-saving features, including a rainwater reclamation and reuse system, which is being used for flushing urinals and toilets. “Since the toilet water is 100 percent rainwater, the overall reduction of water use is a total of 83 percent,” said Weiford. In addition, low-flow fixtures are used throughout the facility. While these water-conserving fixtures don’t typically result in a lot of cost savings for the Owner, they are no more expensive than traditional fixtures, and they can have a massive impact on a city’s budget, lessening the need for larger water treatment facilities and the infrastructure that goes with it.
The City of Wichita Transit Van Maintenance Facility achieved LEED Silver certification in April 2011. TESSERE Architecture provided site planning, architecture and interior and landscape design services as part of a Design-Build team with Conco Construction, Shelley Electric, Central Air Conditioning Co., Professional Engineering Consultants, and Dudley Williams & Associates.

1 Insulating Concrete Forms, Portland Cement Association,