St. Pete opens first LEED certified fire station
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09/06/11 Janelle Irwin
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St. Petersburg officials opened their third green building this morning near Lake Maggiore. The latest project built using Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification principles is a St. Pete’s fire station. It achieved green building classification by using energy efficiency programs, native landscaping and a water collection system.

The new fire station is considered 23% more efficient than standard buildings, which officials estimate will save the city about $6,000 per year. The building’s high-tech air conditioning system will save a lot of electricity. John Von Hof, the project’s contractor, said the system works so well, there are no so called dead zones where there is a noticeable difference in temperature from room to room.

The station was also designed with expansive windows to let in as much natural light as possible, reducing the need for artificial light. The structure’s roof is about 7 inches thick and coated with a reflective material. Rooms have motion sensors that turn lights off when no one is in them and the bathrooms utilize low flow plumbing fixtures. But, Mike Connors, the Public Works Administrator for the city, says the LEED certified building will also save money in building maintenance.

Connors said he expects these traits will land station number 8 a top spot among green building ratings.

The old station had to be removed before construction could begin on the new one. Von Hof, who headed up much of the process, said he recycled as much of the demolished materials as possible.

The city budgeted 1.5 million dollars for the project. Connors said that cost would have been much higher if the new station had been built on a new site.

The opening of the new station comes at an emotional time for many Americans as the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches. Mayor Bill Foster said this is a time for reflection, but he hopes residents of St. Petersburg will pay homage to emergency responders all the time.

Jason Jensen, the project’s architect, said he was happy to have had the opportunity to give back to the men and women who serve our communities.

The list of sustainable design highlights is impressive, but firefighters will also be able to enjoy one of 5 leather reclining chairs in front of a large flat screen television, make a snack from one of 3 stainless steel refrigerators or get in a workout in the facilities training room.

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