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Simple Green

Nov 9, 2009 10:42 AM, By Trevor Boyer

The Orlando Utilities Commission needed simple, smart AV that could adapt to LEED-driven construction.

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Because Reliable Plaza’s architects wanted to use natural daylight to help offset the burden on the building’s heating system, Teer Engineering specifed Sanyo PLC-XT35 5000-lumen projectors in OUC’s three training rooms and commission chambers, which have southern exposures and significant ambient light.

When the Orlando Utilities Commission set out to build a new headquarters, the goal was gold—the second highest certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)—a rating that few buildings have merited. This objective would have implications for the building’s AV integrator, alongside the more usual government requirement for ultrasimple operation and maintenance.

As anyone who’s scanned through the LEED for New Construction Rating System guidebook knows, there are several ways to go green as a means to strike gold. To inch toward that level of certification, a team designing a building can specify bike racks, have the roof painted white, or design a cistern for the roof to collect rainwater. The LEED-certified building can have a hyperefficient air-conditioning system, some bamboo flooring, and a system of intelligent window blinds that open and close to maximize (or deflect) the sun’s energy. Or all of the above. Or none of these.

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The U.S. Green Building Council’s intent is that all these LEED-oriented efforts result in three general outcomes: water/energy efficiency, pollution/waste reduction, and the use of sustainable, recycled, or recyclable building materials. There is no single objective metric that can account for all of these laudable goals, so a building’s LEED rating is based not on any yardstick but on a checklist. There are a few fundamental requirements, and optional achievements each result in the award of one point toward certification. A certain number of points captures a specific LEED rating.

A building’s audiovisual system, of course, sucks a certain amount of electricity. A well-designed energy-efficient AV system can help a building design fulfill a LEED pre­requisite and add points to a design. In the case of the OUC’s new home, the 10-story Reliable Plaza, its Gold LEED rating was well in the bag before the audiovisual integrators, Teer Engineering, could submit a design for the building’s commission chambers, three training rooms, and 20 small conference rooms. Though LEED-certification efforts didn’t directly affect the Orlando, Fla.,-based firm’s audiovisual system design for Reliable Plaza, they did have an impact on its installation of the AV gear.

Public Welcome

It’s fitting that the Orlando Utilities Commission—the local power company—would move into the first building in Orlando to attain a Gold LEED rating. Like most utilities around the country, the OUC preaches energy conservation to its customers—protecting a Florida power grid from being overtaxed is a top job for the not-for-profit energy company. With Reliable Plaza’s Gold LEED rating, the OUC sets an example. The municipally owned commission is run by a five-member board that includes the Orlando mayor. It answers to the public, so its meetings are open to the public.

Reliable Plaza, which will celebrate its first anniversary next month, houses the OUC’s customer-service and administrative arms on several floors. (It’s also home to commercial and municipal offices.) On the seventh floor is the OUC’s commission chambers. The room hosts public meetings for up to 75 people, and with its amplified sound system, digital recording infrastructure, and multimedia presentation gear, it’s the most technologically packed room in the building, according to John Teer, president of Teer Engineering.

Intelligible audio is key to the utility of this public room. In the ceiling, the firm installed 20 JBL Control 26CT 6.5in. two-way loudspeakers. In addition to the Shure MX412/C gooseneck podium microphone, the commission chambers is outfitted with six Shure MX410/C gooseneck mics for commission members. These members have a one-year term, so there’s minimal level-setting. “After the mics have been set for the first meeting or so, they tend to stay pretty much the same way,” Teer says.

A BSS Soundweb London (BLU-120 and BLU-160) DSP system allowed Teer Engineering to set EQ and compression levels for the room. “We pretty much tuned those and set it,” Teer says. The client does not need to adjust these settings, but mic-level settings are available via the room’s AMX control system.

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