JOHN DAY - Grant County's new airport terminal is being planned as a "green" building - including a biomass heating system.

Gary Judd, Grant County Regional Airport manager, said two companies - Siemens Building Technologies Inc. based in Issaquah, Wash., and McKinstry Inc. of Seattle - have submitted proposals to design a biomass heating system for the building. Both have offices in Boise.

Judd said the biomass proposal bodes well for the county, which has a wealth of woody material to fuel such plants.

"We're not going to be the pellet or chip capital of the world right away, but we could show how this can work," he said.

Judd noted that in the business world, it's risky to create a supply without a demand. With the airport project, he said, "we're going to safely create a demand for biomass that could be met locally."

Still to be decided is whether the plant would use woody debris in the form of chips or pellets.

However, the latter could create an immediate market for a pellet plant - a project that has spurred increasing interest in county and business development circles of late.

Judd said that whichever firm is chosen would work with the county, Forest Service, local businesses and the community to explore the options and possibly create a wood chip or pellet plant partnership.

The biomass project opens the possibility of similar power service for other public buildings in the area, such as the County Courthouse, Judd said.

Both Siemens and McKinstry have experience in biomass projects. Siemens submitted information on two projects it completed for school districts in Idaho. McKinstry also has done projects for schools and government buildings, including the Washington State Legislative Building.

The $5.1 million terminal building is largely funded by ConnectOregon II with a small amount of Federal Aviation Administration funds going toward aircraft parking and taxiway access to the terminal. The U.S. Forest Service is expected to chip in $800,000 as a partner in the project, which will house the agency's new fire base.

WH Pacific, the county's engineering consultant for the project, has picked Boise-based CSHQA as a subcontractor to be the architect for the terminal project. CSHQA designed an award-winning terminal building in Boise and is working on projects in Medford, Fresno and Reno.

Judd said energy-efficiency is a major goal for the building.

Plans call for it to attain the silver level in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system. The rating process, which was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, examines various technical criteria that go beyond traditional codes to assess environmental attributes of building design. A point system results in ratings of certified, silver, gold or platinum.

While energy conservation is a must, Judd also said he wants the building to be a comfortable environment for workers and the public.

"And the bottom line is that this has got to be a an inexpensive building to operate," he said.

The preliminary drawings call for a two-story building with about 18,000 square feet of space. The public entrance would be at the northeast corner, and the fire base and airport operations would be separated by common space and meeting rooms. The airport manager's office is on the second floor, all in all an improvement over the current quarters in a remodeled residential house.

Judd recently announced that he has taken a new job at the Bend Municipal Airport, effective in March, but he said he hopes to come back to see the new building dedicated.

"It's going to kill me to see that second-floor office, though," he joked.

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