Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SMECO) is a member-owned, member-controlled non-profit electric distribution utility located in Southern Maryland. It serves over 150,000 residential and business accounts in four counties making it one of the ten largest electric cooperatives in the country!
SMECO is committed to excellent customer service and providing reliable electric service, but their multiple older facilities had fragmented their staff and departments. They implemented a reorganization of staff, but the facilities didn’t reflect that reorganization. Providing uninterrupted electrical service can be a life-and-death issue, as Hurricane Katrina illustrated, and facilities can play a key role.
CT Consultants was retained to analyze and master plan SMECO’s facilities and the resulting facility assessment study revealed significant facility condition issues, code problems and a shortage of appropriate space and site area. There was a need to move and consolidate departments in some of the existing buildings, expand and renovate, and construct some new facilities.
A design program was developed that addressed SMECO’s spatial needs and inefficiencies and consolidated Engineering and Operations functions into a new single, storm-hardened, one-story facility on former farm property. Because of its size and the need for security for the 165,000 SF facility and 17 acres of storage yard and ancillary structures, it is nestled in the forest on some of the formerly cleared area of the property.
In line with SMECO’s commitment to the environment, it was decided to develop the site as a “Sustainable Design” project in compliance with the US Green Building Council’s LEED® Certification program. The innovative design approach addresses sustainable site issues, water efficiency, optimal energy efficiency, use of recycled materials, and indoor environmental quality, among others. The project is expected to achieve a Platinum level certification from USGBC. The project’s certification will be further assured since it is going to have up to 100% of its power supplied from renewable energy from a large 5.5 MW Solar Photovoltaic installation on the adjacent property. CT worked together with SMECO’s engineering group to interconnect the solar farm with the building when it came on line in 2013.
The preliminary energy model indicates the facility will qualify for an Energy Star® label with a rating of 99.75 (out of 100) putting it in the top 6% of commercial office buildings in the U.S. It is currently calculated to have an energy reduction of 72% over an average energy-code-compliant office building according to the EPA.