New fire station is a green teaching tool
When the city of Madison decided to build a new west side fire station, officials wanted to do more than create a place where firefighters worked and lived.
Those officials wanted a building that would add a touch of green to the community.
The $3.65 million, 13,535-square-foot fire station fulfills both missions, said John Holz, senior project designer-associate with Plunkett Raysich Architects LLP, Milwaukee. It also holds the distinction of being one of two United States fire stations to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum certification.
“The city of Madison has always been aggressive when it comes to sustainable design, and they also wanted a building that could be a teaching tool to show members of the community some simple ways they could live greener,” Holz said. “This building is full of ideas to help people do just that.”
A ground source heat pump and solar hot water collectors team up to cover the building’s energy needs. By relying on those two systems, Holz said, the fire station uses zero fossil fuels.
“This is no typical green project racking up points with bamboo floors, bike racks and buffalo grass,” he said. “It is a true example of energy efficiency and environmental responsibility, demanding its design and construction team to push well beyond conventional limits.”
The fire station also includes a 5,000-square-foot green roof, lots of windows and glass to maximize natural daylight and pervious concrete sidewalks, parking areas and driveways. Four cisterns collect rainwater on the property and can store 5,000 gallons of water for landscape and vehicle washing needs.
The station includes a community room with a separate entrance for classes and meetings, furthering the educational aspect of the building.
“The hope is, for example, that visitors to the site might see the rain barrels sitting there and see how nicely it looks and works and say, ‘That’s something I can do at home,’” Holz said.
Making the building as sustainable as possible cost the city of Madison more money, but Holz said Fire Station No. 12 will save money long-term through lower utility bills and a roof that will last longer than a traditional roof.
“Madison was being progressive,” he said. “Seeing that over the building’s life cycle, which is estimated to be 100 years, the things we built in will really have a pay off.”