Atmos Energy’s green-certified facility going up in Natchez

Published 1:15 am Sunday, August 28, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Green and Green Masonry supervisor Edwin Green performs construction work on the soon-to-be Atmos Energy facility Thursday morning on U.S. 61 North in Natchez.

NATCHEZ — In a part of the South known for preserving its beautiful old structures, Natchez is simultaneously on the leading edge of green building technology.

Andrew Calvit, operations supervisor for Atmos Energy Corporation in Natchez, said the gas company is stepping into the future with the construction of a new, green certified building.

the new Atmos Energy building will house 11 employees in its offices, and will be equipped with a full warehouse. The building, which has implemented the latest green technologies, is scheduled to be completed at the end of September or October.

Eleven employees will move from the Atmos office on Franklin Street to U.S. 61 North, into a state of the art 9,821 square-foot building with a 4,800 square-foot warehouse.

The building is certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED — an internationally recognized green building certification system.

Atmos Energy will optimize the energy efficiency of the building under LEED certification by taking several steps, including installing the first NextAire multi zone gas heat pump in the state.

“It’s a technology from Japan with a Toyota engine,” Calvit said. “It has an engine like a car, but we can stand right here and not even hear it. It’s designed to pack power with a small carbon footprint.”

Structural insulated panels — high performance building panels used in floors, walls and roofs for light commercial buildings — will be used in the construction.

Calvit said the building’s 4,800-square foot warehouse will be used to store material, and be big enough accommodate a truck. The warehouse will also include restrooms, a shower, and washer/dryer for employees.

“It will also be a staging area, like a command center in case of emergency,” Calvit said. “It is designed to power three RVs in case of a power outage or a disaster. That’s another aspect of having the community involved — people can hook into it if they need to.”

Calvit added that the new building will be equipped with a conference room that can be used for public functions.

Robert Lesley of Atmos public affairs said the Natchez building will be the fourth new or refurbished Atmos Energy office in Mississippi within the past year.

An architect’s rendering of the new building shows its exterior, which was designed to have a look consistent with downtown Natchez, though it will be located on the outskirts of town.

“We have a total of about 16 offices, so that means one-quarter of our offices have received upgrades in the past 12 months,” Lesley said.

Calvit said even though the new building is not located downtown, the look of it will be consistent with the style of Natchez.

“We wanted to design our building to reflect our community,” Calvit said. “And we want the community to be proud of it.”

Calvit said the builders stuck with a few specific design points to create the Natchez look.

“We will have ‘Natchez green’ shutters on the windows, which reflects a lot of downtown,” Calvit said. “And the exterior will have Riverview modular brick to also keep up with the theme.”

Lessley said the distinctive red brick is made in Mississippi.

While the building’s contractor, John Lewis Construction, is based out of Jackson, Calvit said local businesses have been used for practically everything else. Local vendors and companies were used for civil engineering, material testing, site work, concrete, plumbing and electrical.

Calvit said after all the reading and research he has done about LEED certification, he is ready to see the new building become a reality — which is scheduled to be in late September or October. He said that having a building with the latest green capabilities means good things for Natchez.

“You definitely need to have the leading edge and become a pace-setter,” Calvit said. “I’m glad to see this going up. You have to change with the times. This is our future.”