Windows on the right in the photo are west facing.

Wouldn’t you love to go to work in a place specifically built for you?

This was exactly the goal established by WyDOT for the design of Torrington Port of Entry.  This weigh station, located on the eastern side of Wyoming, processes vehicles at the port in all sorts of weather and at all times of the day.  As a person working to ensure the safety and security of the vehicles coming through the station, specific heights, widths, and placement of windows was necessary.

As the first of a series of prototypes for WyDOT, the team did not know which direction the subsequent buildings would be facing.  This meant that the windows workers would be looking out of all day could be south, west, north, or east-facing.  We all know that staring at the low, winter southern sun is very difficult, as well as the direct eastern or western sun at either ends of the day.  From the design perspective, the glazing needed special consideration.  It didn’t take long for the team to determine that Sage glass, an electrochromic glazing system, was the best solution for the windows which would have direct sunlight.  Electrochromic glazing darkens when a certain amount of light hits it and lightens, in increments, when there is less direct daylight.  The sunlight is measured, in our case, through a photo sensor on the window.  As a result, the workers can see out even when direct sun is hitting the window because the window becomes dark enough to control the sunlight.

The building, however, did not stop at serving both its employees and WyDOT with just glass that automatically darkened.  The second goal was to create a building interior which saved energy and still provided an evenly daylit environment for the employees.  This was accomplished through the use of Solatubes connected to the electrical lighting system by a second photo sensor.  Solatubes harvest daylight from the roof, bringing it down to the ceiling level through a reflective tube, allowing it to wash over the task space and the shaped ceiling.  There are eight Solatubes in the 60′ x 60′ building, leaving no occupied room untouched by daylight – even the bathrooms.

In order for the entire system to come together, the electrical lighting had to be controlled.  The lighting needed to come on or go off depending on how much daylight came in from both the windows and the Solatubes.  Thus, photosensors were installed in various locations in the weigh station and connected to the electrical lighting fixtures to ensure they are not over lighting the space, wasting energy.  The staff does have ultimate control of all of the features; however occupancy and vacancy sensors assist them with this task.

The Torrington Port of Entry is a great example of how it can pay off in the end for a building owner to take the time and effort to commission a state-of-the-art design solution to meet the needs of their staff.

By Kerrie Kannberg