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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

The Marina Restaurant; Bigger, Better, More Efficient

In July, 2010 the popular Marina Restaurant in Brattleboro, Vermont was destroyed by fire. Beyond losing a popular gathering place, the Brattleboro community suddenly lost 40 jobs. Dennis Smith, the owner, knew the Marina Restaurant had to be rebuilt and reopened this summer.

The old Marina building was so expensive to heat, the restaurant was only operated nine months a year.  Dennis was confident that Windham County, VT and Cheshire County, NH would provide the business to run the restaurant year-round, but the energy consumption over the winter had to be greatly reduced for the business plan to work.

The goal was to create a new building on the old site with more seating, more flexibility for events, cost-effective year-round operation, greater kitchen space, and a design that would provide the casual and comfortable atmosphere that Brattleboro deserved. Predictably, this challenge had to be met on a very modest budget. Dennis had built and rebuilt enough buildings to understand the task at hand was aesthetically and technically unique so he assembled a team of professionals to get the ball rolling.

Bryan Louisel (Bryan Louisel Design, Brattleboro, VT) was the architect that designed the new building. Foard Panel (Chesterfield, NH), our company, was hired to provide the structure and building envelope from design through to installation. Bob Stevens (Stevens and Associates, Brattleboro, VT) and Annette Dey (Annette Dey Engineering, Walpole, NH) handled the civil and structural engineering for the project with Bob focusing on the site work, flood protection, and foundation and Annette handling everything above the ground floor level.

Because of the location of the old building right next to the West River, we couldn’t increase the footprint of the foundation. This fact combined with the amount of seating needed, required that the dinning room grow vertically to include a second story. This created another challenge, public buildings, like restaurants, that have more than a certain square footage on the 2nd floor, an elevator is required. The budget could never handle and elevator. The only alternative was to make the 1st floor larger without increasing the foundation size. The solution was to cantilever 8 feet of the building beyond the foundation, over the West River.

For cost and environmental reasons, the building has a wood structure. Cantilevering a 2 story building beyond the foundation with a wood structure was certainly a challenge. Fortunately, with great effort by the engineers, Bob and Annette, and a tremendous amount of 3D modeling by Foard, we came up with a solution that would work to support the building and resist the high winds common to the Connecticut River valley.

The preferred design for the main roof included a full cathedral ceiling, a large cupola, and a full hip design over the dining room. Again we relied primarily on wood for the roof structure, even though it carries high snow loads across a 48 foot by 48 foot clear span. By thinking outside the box, we developed a truss & hip rafter design that used off-the-shelf engineered lumber. The black spruce glu-lam beams provided by Nordic Engineered Wood Products were attractive enough to be left unfinished.

The wall and roof SIPs (structural insulated panels) from Foard Panel all have solid polystyrene foam cores and have a bare minimum thermal bridges through the insulation. Even the structural headers above the windows and doors are thermal bridge free. Because of the required energy performance, Vermont energy code was only the starting point for the energy engineering. All of the SIP joints were injected with foam within the panel and then taped on the interior side to ensure the air sealing was far beyond code minimums. While polystyrene isn’t as “green” a material as wood is, it’s pretty good for a synthetic material. The embodied energy and CO2 emissions of manufacturing the SIPs will be completely offset by heating fuel savings in less than 4 years.

A high performance envelope combined with hot-water radiant floors, modulating/condensing boilers, and energy recovery ventilators ensures that not only will The Marina be able to stay open and comfortable all year, but it will do so while consuming less energy in 12 months than the old, smaller building did during it’s 9 month season. The cook-tops and ovens will burn more gas than the boilers do, even on the coldest winter days.

Everyone involved worked hard to make this project happen so fast. The “new” Marina opened almost exactly one year after the “old” Marina burned down. The design and engineering were done in the fall and early winter, the foundation was completed just before winter prevented concrete from being poured, and the structure and SIPs were built while West River lay deeply frozen below. After Foard had the structure and envelope up, Bryan and Dennis led a crew of dozens of local tradesmen to finish and fit-out the building in record time.

The Marina opened on July 1st this year and has remained very busy all summer. Rumor has it that even the slowest weeks this summer have still served more people than the best weeks the “old” Marina ever had. There is still minor construction work going on throughout the summer, but the restaurant is open, doing a good business, and can continue sustainably for many, many years. All of the old staff are back plus some new faces and there are as many new guests as there are returning guests.

Paul Malko – Chief Engineer, Foard Panel Inc.
GET Aug2011 page  26

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