Green N.C. Fire Station Saves Energy, Construction Costs

The rap on some green building efforts is that they can tend to be more expensive than using conventional designs and materials. However, a fire department in North Carolina turned this argument on its head recently when it completed its new LEED Gold certified fire station not only on time but $2 million under budget.

According to a report in the Charlotte Business Journal, the city of Charlotte’s Fire Station No. 42 scored 61 points out of the total 110 under the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) rating system, earning it Gold level status for environmental sustainability. Some of the key features of the 11,600-square-foot building include a rooftop solar array used to produce hot water for the crews, abundant skylights and glass bay doors to bring in natural light, and extra insulation to prevent heat loss and reduce ambient noise.

LEED Fire Station 1

Image via Nancy Pierce/Charlotte Business Journal

More than 40 percent of the building materials for the structure were sourced from within a 500-mile region, the city said. Roughly 20 percent of the building was made from recycled content, and at least 75 percent of the construction and demolition waste was diverted from the area’s landfills.

LEED Fire Station 2

Image of Station No. 42’s solar heating unit via Nancy Pierce/Charlotte Business Journal

In a time when most city governments are significantly strapped for cash, the final bottom-line tally was a refreshing testament to the viability of green building in municipal structures. The initial appropriation for the station project was $7 million, but the final costs came in at just $5 million, the city said.

LEED Fire Station 3

Glass doors allow plenty of natural light into the truck bays. Image via Nancy Pierce/Charlotte Business Journal.

“The construction of Fire Station 42 to the LEED Gold standard is an amazing example of how affordable and applicable sustainable construction is to all building types,” said Emily Scofield, executive director of USGBC’s Charlotte Region Chapter, in the Journal report. “LEED is applicable to where we live, where we learn and where we work. Who can argue with healthy, high-performing homes, schools, offices and fire stations?”

Designed by ADW Architects and built by Murray Construction Co. of Monroe, Station No. 42 is the first to be built under a policy enacted by Charlotte in 2009, stating that all new fire stations, police stations, airport expansions and utility buildings, including renovations of at least 5,000 square feet, must meet or exceed LEED guidelines.

Randy Woods is a Seattle-based writer and editor with 20+ years of experience in the business publishing world. A former managing editor of Seattle Business, iSixSigma, Claims and Waste Age magazines, he has covered topics that include newspaper publishing, entrepreneurism, green businesses, insurance, environmental protection and garbage hauling (yes, really). He also contributes to the Career Center Blog for The Seattle Times and edits a photography magazine called PhotoMedia. When not working, he likes to hide out in Seattle movie theaters and attend film festivals—even on sunny days.