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Energy efficiency tops the menu at food bank facility

NNBW Staff

From heating to cooling systems, energy savings are in place at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada warehouse on Italy Drive at Tahoe Reno Industrial Center.

Jake Jakubowski, project manager, points to a litany of design features that translate to operational savings.

Like the building’s HVAC system heating, ventilating, and air conditioning the most efficient on the market, he says.

“Normally, radiant heaters use incredible amounts of natural gas,” he says. But the food bank’s system vents warm air at ceiling level and circulates, he says, as long as open air is allowed to reach the entire warehouse. “It’s a unique way of looking at distribution of heat.”

The building also taps its sheer mass of concrete for thermal storage. Pre-cooled by nature early in morning, the 61,000-square foot building gets a daytime boost from swamp coolers that work in conjunction with louvers set high in the walls, allowing heat to vent.

And in the storage freezers, a glycol system means no ice buildup, says Jakubowski. While other walk-in freezer rooms must heat the floor to prevent the concrete from cracking, these units recycle waste heat from a compressor manifold in the floor. Further energy savings come from motion sensors that activate lights.

The Food Bank’s administrative offices are illuminated by floor-to-ceiling windows. That area includes 14 walled offices, 15 open office workstations, two large conference rooms and an events and training area.

Aspen Engineering designed the facility. The architect was Hershenow + Klippenstein of Reno, the contractor was Panattoni Development Company, and Project One of Carson City acted as project manager for the Food Bank.

At a cost of $14.6 million, the Donald W. Reynolds Regional Food Distribution Center used an $8.2 million grant from its namesake to increase the warehouse space it has available.

With 75,000 cubic feet of refrigerated space for perishable items, it can park 400 pallets, compared with just 24 in its old space on Prater Way in Sparks.

Set on nine acres of land, with three acres in use, the building, driveways and access lanes are designed to accommodate future expansion.

A member of America’s Second Harvest, the Food Bank of Northern Nevada is part of a network of over 200 food banks across the nation.

And while most of the food it distributes comes from that network’s partnership with corporations, the local Food Bank has found its next-door neighbor, the Wal-Mart distribution center, to be a very good

neighbor indeed.

At Wal-Mart, if a refrigerated shipment is just one or two degrees off temperature, the retail chain can’t accept it, says Helyse Sina, public relations officer for the Food Bank.

Typical of a donated shipment was a whole truckload of bananas that were the wrong shade of green. And broken pallets of product, rejected en masse by the giant, can be salvaged and cleaned in the Food Bank’s containment rooms.

“All local grocers help us by donating foods close to expiration date,” she adds. “We can turn it around in two days by calling our member agencies.”

But the Food Bank’s new digs pose a problem: distance. Volunteers may find a 50-mile round trip from south Reno off-putting. “We hope for continued support from our volunteers and hope the distance isn’t an issue,” says Sina.

The Food Bank is staffed by 40 paid emp-loyees on site and 3,226 volunteers, who donate an average of four hours twice a year. That equals 12,000 volunteer hours, says Bill Kolton, volunteer coordinator.

“Easily 50 volunteers could now work at one time,” he adds, and points to a location plus: “Now we can tap volunteers from Fernley.”

Fundraising efforts and grant writing for the new warehouse began 10 years ago, spearheaded by Cherie Jamason, president and chief executive officer and Cindi Mitchell, chief operations officer.

“They gave the Reynolds Foundation a personal tour of what we were operating without,” says Sina.

Last year Food Bank of Northern Nevada served more than 100 partner agencies, feeding about 65,700 people in an 80,000 square mile area. That’s a 17 percent increase over the previous year.

And its new warehouse can process and distribute an additional 10 million pounds of food.