San Ysidro Land Port of Entry
The San Ysidro Land Port of Entry is designed to be the port of the future, not only operationally, but also in terms of high-performance buildings. All three phases
of the project are targeted to achieve LEED Platinum certification due to energy efficiency, water conservation strategies, and an integrated design process. Most
notably is the potential of achieving net zero energy (the buildings, on a net annualized basis, will provide as much power as they consume) in all the occupied spaces, the first facility open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to
achieve this in the United States.
An astonishing 102,000 people cross the border here between Mexico and the United States daily. The redevelopment project is to improve operational efficiency,
security and safety for cross-border travelers and federal agencies at the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry. The project includes accommodating 34 lanes of traffic—each
with two stacked inspection booths, a 200,000-square foot administrative and operations facility, 110,000 square feet of primary and secondary vehicle inspection canopy,
a new northbound and southbound connection to Mexico’s planned El Chaparral Land Point of Entry facility, and ancillary buildings for the Department of Homeland Security.
Four 100-foot iconic masts will extend from a 780-foot “pillow” canopy that covers lanes of traffic going into the United States. These masts will include security
cameras and lighting and will pump fresh air into the inspection booths below the canopy. The canopy here, as well as the one covering the second inspection facility,
is composed of ETFE, or Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene, the same material used for the National Aquatics Center for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This material allows for
rain and sun protection for the officers in booths, and because of its translucent nature allows for natural light thereby requiring no artificial lighting during the
day. The design reasoning behind the use of the canopies was also for security: the canopy’s thin nature provides unimpeded views to cars queuing at the border.
Sustainable water management strategies include a 400,000 gallon rainwater reclamation system that incorporates filtration and infiltration into the landscape while
specifying native plants that require low-water use and maintenance, and low-flow fixtures and controls. The proposed reduces the water consumption by over 28 million
gallons per year (enough water to supply over 230 typical households), with the goal of water neutrality in sight. Photovoltaic panels and a closed-loop, ground-coupled
geoexchange system will offset port energy use. Because the primary booths will have the highest energy use at the port, the design team worked to reduce energy use
and increase officer comfort by using radiant heating and cooling panels as part of the booth’s HVAC system. An intelligent flow design impacts operational sustainability
in order to reduce “tail pipe carbon” by decreasing idle time for automobiles.