A new air traffic control tower designed to be energy independent by 2030 could take shape at the Medford airport by the end of 2008.

A new air traffic control tower designed to be energy independent by 2030 could take shape at the Medford airport by the end of 2008.

At 100 feet, the $3.6 million tower project will be taller than the existing 60-foot structure that sits atop the old terminal, which will be leveled once a new terminal is complete.

The airport will receive the money from the Federal Aviation Administration. Jackson County commissioners will consider approving the project at their meeting Wednesday.

Airport Director Bern Case said the federal money came through in the nick of time because the old tower needs to be torn down once the new $35 million, 110,000-square-foot terminal is complete in 2009.

"I was in this trap and I needed to keep the tower moving," he said. "Getting everything to fall in the right order has been a challenge."

Plans for the tower include a number of energy-saving features as part of a national goal to make major reductions in fossil-fuel energy consumption by 2030.

David Straus of the Medford firm of Skelton, Straus and Seibert Architects said the heating and cooling will be derived from a geothermal system. He said 12, 150-foot-deep holes of eight to 10 inches in diameter will be bored into the ground. Pipes will be inserted in the holes and surrounded with a material that provides good contact with the surrounding soil, which is 56 degrees on average.

A liquid solution will flow through the pipes through a pumping system that will go into heat pumps on each of the seven floors of the building.

"The energy to heat and cool the tower will come from the heat or cooling energy in the ground," he said.

The building will feature the latest fluorescent light technologies that use less power. Dimmer switches and motion sensors throughout the building will conserve electricity.

Even the elevator will use less power than normal, he said.

While many of the energy-saving features are readily available, Straus said, "We're pushing the technology out a little further."

Materials in the building, which is steel framed, will also be chosen for their ability to be recycled sometime after the 50-year life of the building.

Some of the design features anticipate technologies that are just on the horizon. Solar panels that generate more energy and better battery technology to store the power likely will be available before 2030, said Straus. The building is being wired and fitted to accept these new technologies, he said. Wind turbines are also being looked at as another possible power source.

By 2030, Straus said the building should be independent of any outside source of electricity.

"It will be a building that will not use any carbon-based energy source," he said.

The old terminal and tower will be removed to make room for a parking area for planes to load and unload passengers.

Case said the FAA was originally going to build the control tower in a four to five-year time frame. The cost was also going to be about three times as much, he said.

Initially, the FAA wanted to build a special, bomb-proof control tower after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but those plans have been scrapped.

To speed up the process, Case said he negotiated with FAA officials to allow the airport to handle the building of the project.

Case said he will be seeking bids for the new tower in the early part of 2008, with construction beginning in the spring.

The tower is about 300 yards south of the existing facility, needs to be taller to properly monitor the entire runway, which is longer than when the original tower was built. The base of the tower is 28 feet by 62 feet, but the tower itself is 28 feet by 28 feet with a total 3,600 square-feet of usable space.

The new terminal is being built about 200 feet to the west of the existing terminal.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com.