Ravalli Electric Co-Op
The Ravalli Electric Co-Op is a nonprofit electrical utility provider in Ravalli County, MT. Serving over 10,000 members, giving back to the community and sustainable operations are two of the Co-Op’s main goals. Keeping these two priorities in mind, Morrison-Maierle provided energy-efficient and sustainable mechanical, electrical, and structural engineering designs for the Co-op’s new multi-building workplace.
The Challenge: With 19,400 square feet of office space and 30,950 square feet of warehouse and garage parking space, this project needed a variety of structures included in this multi-building complex. Structures include office space, staffing training rooms, large vehicle storage, wash bays, and dry storage buildings. In addition, there are other structures containing workspaces critical to employee success that could be easily modified to accommodate the client’s needs.
The Solution: Morrsion-Maierle varied the structural systems to balance performance and cost. For example, we designed a light-framed, wood building for the office spaces, adding steel members to provide wider window bays. We also linked in prefabricated metal buildings for the vehicle storage areas to create a continuous space. Each prefabricated building was connected with expansion joints so all spaces easily connected. Morrison-Maierle also added Concrete Masonry unit block walls for the vehicle wash area to allow for long-term durability. A wood framed roof shelters the wash area to keep project costs down.
The Challenge: In order to serve their customers in the most sustainable way, the co-op sought to create a modern, healthy building that provided both a comfortable workplace and an energy efficient design. Specific needs included thermal comfort, energy savings, and creating a healthy workplace.
The Solution: Morrison-Maierle designed an all-electric, energy-efficient HVAC system that was cost-effective and met the co-op’s goals. We selected a water source Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system after analyzing various alternative systems. The VRF HVAC system was the preferred method because it allowed individual thermal comfort control within each office space and shared energy via a modulating heat pump system.
Morrison-Maierle used electric boilers and a fluid cooler heat pump, which injects or rejects heat as needed to maintain needed temperatures for operation. A radiant floor system in the vehicle storage bay also used water source heat pumps to further energy savings.
The all-electric system was designed to ensure longevity and efficiency in the HVAC system. Filtered fresh air gets circulated through the building through energy recovery ventilation. All air that enters the building for ventilation is now exhausted, promoting a healthy, active environment.
The Challenge: This multi-building complex design required several unique lighting and control capabilities. As a public electrical entity, the Ravalli Electric Co-op, also wanted to use this building as an example of responsible power use.
The Solution: Morrison-Maierle used LED-based lighting to implement a design that was not only highly-efficient, with a combination of manual and automatic controls, but also aesthetically consistent with the architecture of each space.
The open-structure ceiling designs were kept clean by using sleek linear wall-mount fixtures. These provide both direct lighting on work surfaces, and indirect lighting that bounces light off the ceiling to add overall soft supplemental lighting to the space.
Lighting modeling software was used to determine lighting needs for each space. High-bay and aisle-way lighting is used in larger warehouse spaces; vapor and watertight fixtures are used in the vehicle washbays; and offices, conference rooms, and training rooms are provided with full dimming capability.
Morrison-Maierle’s electrical design included several measures for energy efficiency, including:
- LED lighting that provides up to 75% in energy savings compared to traditional lighting
- Photocells to monitor exterior light contribution and automatically adjust light levels
- Occupancy sensors to shut off lighting when spaces are vacant
- A programmable exterior lighting controller with a multi-level, photocell design that allows lighting adjustments during dark hours, further reducing output by 50% during late-night, off-hour periods