KSS Architects is excited to announce that Empire Merchants North’s new corporate headquarters and distribution center has earned LEED Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The $27.5 million, 255,100 square feet headquarters and distribution center in Coxsackie, N.Y., was a design-build collaboration between KSS and BBL Construction Services, based in Albany, N.Y. The project is located on a 21-acre site in Kalkberg Commerce Park, a business park adjacent to Interstate 87 and developed by Greene County Industrial Development Agency (Greene IDA).
Empire Merchants North is one of the largest beverage alcohol distributors in New York. It is a member of The Charmer Sunbelt Group, which operates distribution centers across the nation.
Empire Merchants North set an initial goal of achieving a LEED rating at the Certified level. Through the collaborative efforts of the design-build team and the leadership of KSS Architects, the project achieved a LEED Silver rating with little additional investment from the Empire Merchants North because of federal and state incentive programs.
To earn Silver certification in the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, version 2.2, projects have to earn between 33 to 38 points in the categories of Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation in Design. Empire Merchants North earned 35 points.
One of the project’s most innovative and critical sustainable design accomplishments was the team’s development of a long-term, energy-efficient operations strategy for the distribution center. The warehouse was designed with a low-energy material handling conveyor system and quick-charge battery system for forklifts. Warehouse aisles were designed to minimize forklift travel, thus reducing equipment energy usage. Finally, by strategically siting the project near the interstate highway, the project team reduced truck traffic to and from the new distribution center by 40 percent over the company’s former locations in the region.
Additional sustainable design and construction highlights for the project:
More than 75 percent, or 282 tons, of on-site generated construction waste was diverted from landfills31 percent of the project’s site area is open vegetated land or preserved natural habitatA decrease of stormwater runoff by 73 percent as compared to pre-project conditionsLandscaping with only native or adaptive species and does not require irrigationHigh-performance, thermally insulated building envelope, wall and roofing systemsWhite roofing membrane to mitigate heat-island effectEfficient plumbing fixtures that reduced water usage by 32 percent (140,000 gallons annually) as compared to a baseline buildingEnergy savings of 35 percent, or more than 1 million kWh per year, as compared to a baseline building—equivalent to the annual energy use of 60 homes, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection AgencyBase building systems for the conditioned warehouse that used no chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) based refrigerants24 percent of the total building materials by value were manufactured using recycled materials37 percent of the total building materials by value were manufactured regionally (within 500 miles)Low-VOC finish materials and formaldehyde-free wood certified by the Forest Stewardship CouncilNatural daylighting in office spaces
Through federal and state incentives and savings in utility costs and maintenance, Empire Merchants’ initial investment of about $500,000 for a high-performance building will be effectively paid back in less than two years.
The new distribution center and corporate headquarters has 40,600 square feet of office space and 214,500 square feet of warehouse space with a clear height of 37 feet. With building elevations stretching more than 700 feet long, or the length of two regulation football fields, KSS had to ensure the design would complement the site context and support the sustainability goals of both Empire Merchants North and the local community. The designers worked with town administrators and Greene IDA, which served as the park’s planner and developer, to ensure the building’s materials and color fit the vernacular architecture.
Planning and design for the project kicked off in the summer of 2008. The owner wanted the building completed and in operation by December 2009. The success of the project on its accelerated schedule required close collaboration among the KSS and BBL Construction Services, The Charmer Sunbelt Group, Empire Merchants North, Green County Industrial Development Authority, R.W. Beck, Novus Engineers, Hershberg Civil Engineers, W&H Systems Inc. and local officials.
About KSS Architects LLP
KSS Architects (kssarchitects.com) is an award-winning architectural design firm with offices in Philadelphia and Princeton, N.J. Founded in 1983, KSS specializes in the design and planning of educational institutions, preK-12 schools, commercial and industrial buildings and corporate interiors. Current projects include a new campus center at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, a new distribution center for Teva Pharmaceuticals USA and a new distribution center for The Coca-Cola Company.