Santa Barbara Shoots for Silver & Wins Gold

Author: 
Robert Nordstrom
Published in: 
May-June
2010




When Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA) began constructing its new rental car facility in summer 2007, officials hoped it would earn a silver rating in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). As it turned out, the $7.8 million facility achieved a gold rating.




Facts & Figures

Project: Joint-Use Rental Car Facility

Location: Santa Barbara (CA) Municipal Airport

Cost: $7.8 million

Building Size: 10,000 sq. ft.

Architect of Record: PGAL

Consulting Architect: Lenvik & Minor

Contractor: Pat McCarthy Construction

Photovoltaic System Consultant: High Sun Engineering

Rental Car Companies: Budget, Enterprise, Hertz & National

Noteworthy Details: Achieved LEED gold certification for environmental sustainability

In many areas, national environmental certification would be big news; in Santa Barbara, it's required for all new buildings, explains assistant airport director Hazel Johns. Despite such high local standards, the gold LEED rating adds luster to the new facility that opened last November.

"We've ended up with a functional and extremely efficient car rental facility that really pleases our tenants," Johns notes.

The new 10,000-square-foot building sits on a 3.6-acre site approximately one mile from the terminal. Each of the airport's four rental car companies has its own office space and maintenance bays. They share a two-vehicle car wash bay, an eight-vehicle fueling station and a 300-space parking lot.

Let the Sun Shine

To achieve LEED's sustainability standards, the new facility was designed for efficiency in energy consumption and renewability; water usage and storm water quality; indoor air and environment quality (including lighting and ventilation); outdoor lighting; site selection and amenities to encourage employees' use of public transportation and bicycles (including showers and changing rooms); and use of recycled construction materials and resources.

A solar photovoltaic system offers significant energy savings. "Energy-wise, the facility is completely self-sustaining," says Jeff Weiner, principal manager for architect of record PGAL. "It basically draws no power from the power grid."

Airport project engineer Leif Reynolds is particularly impressed with the system's ability to be monitored on line and its ability to produce the correct amount of kilowatt hours to operate the rental car facility. Energy that's not consumed can be sold to the utility company.




Hazel Johns

"This project literally runs off itself," Reynolds reports.

A $358,000 rebate from Southern California Edison further sweetened the deal to install solar panels.

Many other features, however, contribute to the facility's overall environmental sustainability. For example, surface water is directed by grade and gravity to bio-swales, where fuel and oil spills are cleansed via natural filtration before being discharged into the ecosystem.

The car wash system reclaims and reuses approximately 85% of its water.

Collaborative Design

SBA management and PGAL worked closely with the rental car companies to ensure that the new facility met their business needs - not an easy task given Santa Barbara's strict building codes and standards.




Jeff Wiener

Each rental car company presented architectural requirements based on its individual usage and offered input for common-use elements.

"When we started doing these consolidated facilities a few years back, we began to learn how to live with each other," laughs Connie Gurich, director of properties for Hertz. "It works just fine. All of our operations are very similar. We all have the same kind of peaks and valleys. As long as we get enough wash and fuel capacity, we're OK."

According to Weiner, collaboration and negotiation "saved the day" when a few differences of opinion arose.

Parking lot lighting, for example, was one area where the preference of the rental car companies conflicted with LEED certification requirements. The companies wanted 5 to 10 foot-candles of light intensity, while LEED certification sets the limit at 1 to 2 foot-candles and guards against artificial lights bleeding across property lines.




Connie Gurich

Although LEED requirements prevailed, Weiner prevented potential conflicts by clearly communicating the rationale to all parties.

Under Budget

To cover construction costs for the facility, the airport secured a 7% loan from the city of Santa Barbara. The loan is being repaid with money collected through California's customer facility charge, which allows airports to assess a $10 per car contract fee that's designated for the construction or improvement of rental car facilities.

Budgeted at $8.6 million, the entire project was completed for $7.8 million, including hard and soft costs.

"It was a well-conceived and efficient project," Weiner proudly states. "The team ran like a well-oiled machine, and the contractor was left with few unknowns." Johns agrees: "We are very pleased with the results."





Next on the Docket

SBA's next debut will be a new 67,000-square-foot terminal building, scheduled for completion in early 2011. Interestingly, the airport's current 7,000-square-foot terminal will be moved and incorporated into the new facility.

Additions that were constructed in 1967 and 1976 are being removed, but the original terminal will be saved for historic significance and used to house security operations and marking management.

Subcategory: 
Landside Development

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