Go for the Green

Departments are finding going green saves more than the environment; it saves them money as well

     He adds that part of Cotati's additional cost occurred because green features were not incorporated into the facility's original design. The city halted the design phase midway to include them. "We spent money designing a building and then had to start over again," he explains.

     While federal funding for going green is limited (Monroe County received $4.5 million in federal funds for its $30 million project), Garland points out the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority offers funding for energy efficient building designs. Funding from the City of Rochester, which promotes green building design, was also available. He adds most states probably offer such opportunities if one seeks them out.

     As more green buildings are built and green technologies continue to develop, Smith predicts construction costs will decrease. For now, sticking with available green technologies can lessen the financial impact. "You have to put on a roof; why not put on a green roof? You have to put in a heating system; so why not put in an environmentally friendly heating system?" he asks.

     Paybacks will come in the future from the additional capital outlay today, Smith adds. "If you can build a police station that costs 24 percent less to heat, cool and operate, that is designed to last 100 years, the math isn't that complex," he says. "You will have significant savings down the road from a relatively minor upfront investment."

Hay bales and twine

     As California's first green police facility, police administrators from across the state of have journeyed to Cotati to see its building firsthand. And Stewart says it's funny to see their reactions. "They've all told me they were amazed with how functional the building was and that it wasn't really what they thought of when they considered a green building," he says. "When someone says green, people often think it's something cobbled together with hay bales and twine or something. But the building functions as well as it looks."

     Van Hoven concurs, stating he anticipates nothing but positives for the new crime lab. Better ventilation will prevent fumes from escaping and will better protect forensic samples as they are analyzed. A thoughtful layout will maximize efficiencies of product flow, while natural light will enable employees to better see evidence as they work.

     The features added to the Chicago police stations are not readily noticeable, Smith emphasizes. And none of them impact the building's functionality as a police station. All of Chicago's new facilities sport a high-tech communications and computing infrastructure designed for future upgrades as new technology becomes available. Detention areas are durable and secure while meeting rooms are readily accessible to the public. "From a purely law enforcement perspective, this building is extremely practical and pragmatic," he says. "It just happens to have green benefits that will last for generations."

     Green is being touted as the new black. But for police stations, going for the green offers more than a means of being more environmentally friendly. Green buildings offer today's cash-strapped agencies a way to save money and keep employees productive and happy for generations to come.

     "It's the right thing to do," says Stewart. "We are all trying to do our part to make things better for the environment and financially, and we've done our part here."

     Ronnie Garrett spent 12 years as the editorial director of the Cygnus Law Enforcement Group. She recently left to open a photography and writing business and may be reached through her Web site at www.garrettncostudios.com.

LEEDing the way

     In its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) provides a road map for public safety agencies to operate buildings in an environmentally responsible manner.

     Four levels of LEED certification exist — certified, silver, gold and platinum. Each level is reached by obtaining points from a LEED rating system that offers seven prerequisite points and 69 elective points. To achieve any certification a project must comply with the seven prerequisite points. The elective points are what determine the LEED rating level with certified requiring between 26 and 32 points, silver requiring between 33 and 38 points, gold requiring between 39 and 51 points, and platinum, the highest level, requiring between 52 and 69 points.

  • Enhance your experience.

    Thank you for your regular readership of and visits to Officer.com. To continue viewing content on this site, please take a few moments to fill out the form below and register on this website.

    Registration is required to help ensure your access to featured content, and to maintain control of access to content that may be sensitive in nature to law enforcement.