Tuesday, May 30, 2006

LEED Certified Jail?

Last October, I took note of a Massachusetts jail running on green power through a partnership with a wind energy company. Now, planners in Minnesota are thinking about upping the ante by building a LEED certified justice center:
If plans go as expected, Blue Earth County's new justice center could become the region's first building to meet national standards for environmentally friendly design. ...

Geothermal heating and indoor lights that take advantage of the sun's glow are a couple of the sustainable elements planned for the estimated $38 million justice center, said Brian Paulsen, the project's head architect.

The building could also have "green roofs" that soak up moisture, cutting down on runoff. Storm water not absorbed by the roof would drain into holding ponds, where the water would be filtered.

The justice center -- which consolidates law enforcement functions, including courts, probation and prosecution -- would be south-central Minnesota's first building to meet the LEED standards, said Kevin Flynn, a St. Paul architect.
Of course, tax payers have to be convinced that the higher upfront costs of green building will be worth the money, but, as the article notes, construction costs generally account for only 10% of the costs of running a building over a 30-year period, and paying more upfront should significantly reduce costs over the long term. Looks like this is still under consideration, so lets hope the folks in Mankato see the long-term "win-win" available to them with this plan.

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