Calais Land Port of Entry at twilight; Calais Land Port of Entry at twilight;

Calais US Land Port of Entry, Calais, Maine

Security and sustainability for an international border crossing facility

The Calais Land Port of Entry creates a memorable, environmentally friendly national symbol for travellers crossing the US – Canada border. The 26-acre facility comprises a main administration building, a firearms certification range, office and storage space, and several smaller facilities (e.g., kennels). It also incorporates the first new bridge built between the two nations in decades.

Arup’s services for the project included civil, structural, mechanicalelectrical and plumbing engineering; security and LEED consulting; and lighting design.


From the beginning of the project, we exceeded client expectations in the pursuit of sustainability. Our creative strategies, multidisciplinary design coordination, and close collaboration with both the end-user and contractor made possible a LEED Gold rating (which exceeded the client’s target of LEED Silver). Our major areas of focus involved sitework, water, energy and materials.

To optimise the hilly, rugged terrain for the proposed use, we employed a cut-and-fill strategy (a challenge given the unpredictable geotechnical conditions) which reduced the need to import and export fill. Due to the project’s remote location, cutting down on trips to and from the site saved the client money and prevented significant amounts of carbon emissions.

We reduced the heat island effect using light-coloured concrete and underground parking. Potable water use inside the facility was cut by 40% through sustainable fixture specifications. A low-impact development design provided strong stormwater management.

Heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting systems were selected based on climate and occupancy. Our input into the façade design helped fill the building with natural light while controlling solar heat gain. To measure and verify energy conservation, we designed metering and monitoring equipment. Approximately 30% of the construction materials contained recycled content, and over 30% were sourced locally.

GSA Design Award

The new land port received a prestigious General Services Administration Design Award. According to the awards booklet, “Its innovative outer building skin – an aluminum mesh faceted to resemble common glacial deposits – camouflages the internal workings of the port, improving security for officers. Boulders placed in its courtyard demonstrate a sustainable way of dealing with construction debris.”

The port’s users have also been pleased with the facility. A few months after its inauguration, a General Services Administration representative contacted the project team to report positive feedback from commercial truck drivers using the port. “Nearly three months after opening, during the worst weather of the year, it was nice to hear this real-world validation of the team’s efforts,” he wrote.