Blain’s Farm & Fleet has unveiled a new prototype, in Verona, Wis., that not only ushers in an upgraded architectural image for the chain, but also heralds an increased commitment to sustainability. In a major plus, the green design helped the retailer earn zoning approval from city officials who had initially resisted the idea of a big-boxes to re being built in their town.
We took it a step beyond just an upgraded facade to embody a green building program whose individual features offered both initial cost savings and long-term operational benefits,” said Neal VanLoo, director of engineering, Blain Supply, Janesville, Wis., which operates 34 stores in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa.
Although it was never intended that the 114,500-sq.-ft. store undergo LEED certification, many of its sustainable features were inspired by the program’s criteria.
The conceptual design and specifications were developed by VanLoo and his engineering department. Design Structures, a general contractor, Middleton, Wis., and Strand Associates, Madison, Wis., completed the retailer’s design/build program.
Numerous green measures were enacted during the construction process. In a recycling initiative, Design Structures used rubble from the demolition of the existing building and parking lot on the site as backfill and base rather than importing fresh material. Also, careful pre-planning during the material ordering stage resulted in less wood stud and dry wall scrap. The contractor went a step further by separating some 20% of the normal dumpster waste for recycling, diverting tons from the landfill stream.
Additionally, more than 120 trees that existed on the site were saved and then transplanted after construction. The trees create a lush green acoustical barrier between an adjacent park and the store.
The Verona store applied Blain’s standard structural framing and roof systems construction, based on metal building systems supplied by Butler Manufacturing Co., Kansas City, Mo. The hybrid materials solution combines an engineered structural steel system (based primarily on 50-ft. by 45-ft. bays) with Butler’s MR-24 standing seam metal-roof system with foam-core pre-cast concrete sandwich panels, split-face blocks and horizontal an d vertical architectural panels.
The steel used to fabricate the systems has a 65% recycled content (and would contribute points to formal LEED certification). The structural and architectural pre-cast wall panels offer comparable low maintenance, while masonry piers, metal canopy, architectural metal on the facade, metal and the EFIS backdrop for the signage make for an upgraded appearance.
Five clerestory-like elements spaced along and above the store front allow natural daylight to enter the building at a level above the store shelving. In another daylighting (and energy-saving move), 161 skylights (Sun Tracker from Ciralight, Park City, Utah) were installed. The skylights use a solar powered GPS rotation control system to track the sun with a single mirror that effectively reflects sunlight into the building. The system tracks the sun from an hour after sunrise to an hour before sunset and is expected to cut electrical energy by 30%.
Artificial lighting on the sales floor is provided by photocell-controlled lighting, whose fixtures are rated 20% more efficient than the lighting used in the past. But the building receives so much natural light that the use of artificial illumination is extremely minimal—or even unnecessary—during most daylight hours. In fact, VanLoo foresees electricity costs for lighting on the sales floor potentially dropping to zero during the more than 10 hours of concentrated daylighting from the skylights.
On the exterior, highly efficient LED lighting was used instead of the standard neon for the outdoor signage. The LED lighting is expected to deliver at least 70% energy savings.
The store’s plumbing is also eco-conscious, with instant water heaters eliminating the stand-by supply maintained by conventional tank-type water heaters. Waterless urinals in the rest rooms are expected to save 40,000 gal. of water per fixture annually.
The emphasis on green follows through in the store’s operations. Three large ceiling fans above the selling floor circulate air and allow the thermostat settings to be raised in the summer and lowered in the winter while still maintaining a desirable comfort level for customers. Also, oil collected from vehicle oil changes is being used as an alternative fuel source to heat the automotive service bays.