• US Coast Guard building, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States U.S. Coast Guard Sector New Orleans Command Building, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

file under: Facilities, Design-Build, Government, Federal Government, United States, North America

Beyond These Walls

Two Cities Approach New Facilities with a Fresh Perspective

The buildings we live and work in keep us safe and warm. We expect them to be reliable and structurally sound. Often, they are symbols of our history. For two CDM Smith clients, buildings also represent the future—they are models of renewal, sustainability and community.

This project is significant for Chicago. It’s great to have a permanent facility that encourages people to recycle, protects the environment, and gives back to the local community. 

The Coast is Clear
For the first time, personnel from three sections of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector New Orleans in Louisiana, are working under the same roof. The new command building in the Algiers neighborhood collocates all Coast Guard functions within 25,000 square miles—from daily to surge operations. Bringing these units together facilitates collaboration, reduces incident response time and increases overall efficiency.

Partnering with IKBI, Inc., CDM Smith provided full design services for this Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified, 56,000-gross-square-foot building, which was implemented using design-build delivery. With safety an imperative, the building was designed to withstand flooding and 160-mile-per-hour hurricane winds; one area supports voice and data protection to meet security requirements. 

If there is a flood, power is distributed from the second floor, while a 72-hour generator and a diesel fuel tank are located on the roof. “This is truly a 24/7 facility that can maintain power in any type of event,” explains Jay Manik, CDM Smith vice president. “The Coast Guard and the community can rely on this building in a crisis situation.”

Making Room for Change
“The project had many challenges, but we never lost sight of working as a team or our sustainability goals to meet all of the Coast Guard’s needs,” says Lieutenant Commander John Barresi, the Coast Guard Facility Design and Construction Center Atlantic director of Gulf Coast reconstruction. During design, CDM Smith took advantage of its Dallas design-build center to respond to a change in program requirements. “In 1 day, we redesigned the entire building layout to accommodate more people—a substantial undertaking,” notes Manik. 

Committed to achieving LEED certification, the design team incorporated flexible furniture, door and wall systems to enable easy reconfiguration and to support an adaptive work environment. Low partitions and clerestory glass enable maximum natural daylight throughout the space.

Energy modeling was used early in design to identify cost-effective energy savings. A combination of architectural; electrical; and heating, ventilation and air conditioning measures deliver an 18.5-percent energy cost efficiency compared to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Standard 90.1 baseline. High-efficiency plumbing fixtures, local and recycled resources and low-emitting materials also contribute to the building’s sustainability. 

According to Manik, “This project unites a once-fragmented sector, enabling Coast Guard personnel to better perform their jobs—all while protecting the environment. The design team is proud to deliver a world-class facility that supports Coast Guard operations in New Orleans.”

Redefining Recycling
About 900 miles north of New Orleans, the city of Chicago, Illinois, USA, was looking to improve recycling of household hazardous waste (HHW) and electronics, as well as eliminate labor-intensive, costly collection events. As a result, the Chicago Department of Environment (DOE) asked CDM Smith to design a new Household Products and Electronics Recycling Center—the nation’s first to incorporate sustainable concepts. By diverting almost 1,000 tons of waste from landfills per year, this LEED Silver-certified facility protects the environment and groundwater supplies; it is also reviving the local community.  

HHW and electronics are not the only things being recycled. By reusing a 40-year-old, abandoned incinerator building, the city stayed true to its green initiatives while reducing demolition debris to area landfills. The design for the new 4,320-square-foot recycling facility and 8,470-square-foot training center used the existing foundation and structural steel. Corrugated siding that once served as the building’s shell was reused as interior walls and awnings.

“It was important to make use of the existing building, which required some creativity,” explains Chris Martel, CDM Smith principal environmental engineer. “We removed the walls from a wing of the former building, creating a stand-alone structure on the slab of the old building, sheltered by its structural steel. Eliminating demolition and new construction saved the city $250,000.”

Certifiably Green
"The city is proud of the building’s numerous green features, including use of recycled content and low-emitting materials, construction of bioswales and permeable paving, and installation of a green roof and high-efficiency heating systems,” says Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Chicago DOE Commissioner. "This facility exemplifies the city’s efforts to construct and retrofit buildings in ways that make sound environmental and economic sense.” The green roof, planting beds and reflective pavement reduce the building’s cooling costs by 25 percent—a valuable savings, considering the center’s location on Goose Island, which has end-to-end paving. In addition, innovative wall-mounted solar panels reduce yearly heating costs by 20 percent. 

To create a multi-benefit resource, the city developed a job training and placement program at the facility, where ex-offenders learn to disassemble electronics into useable components. Functional electronics are recovered and donated to nonprofit organizations. Also, the revitalized, vibrant building restores riverfront property and generates public interest in recycling.

Martel concludes, “This project is significant for Chicago. It’s great to have a permanent facility that encourages people to recycle, protects the environment, and gives back to the local community. The team is pleased with our accomplishments and hopes the facility inspires other designers to think green.”