Last week I attended the Town of Cary’s grand opening of Fire Station 8. I don’t know about you, but this was the first time I’ve ever been to the opening of a Fire Station. At first glance, this was a very successful community event–kids had fun climbing on the fire trucks and posing next to the fire poles, parents talked with fire fighters and community leaders, the town band entertained everyone, and the public learned about the importance of community services AND the Town of Cary’s commitment to reducing their environmental footprint. As I went through the new facility, it became apparent to me what an accomplishment this station represents.
This was the first fire station built in many years in Cary, and is decked out with a slew of environmental features. The 13,250 square foot building is built following the US Green Building Council’s LEED rating system, and includes a solar thermal system to provide hot water for the facility (don’t forget, dear reader, that a fire station is both a functional service building AND a dormitory for fire fighters), energy efficient lights, recycled content for building elements, local materials, use of reclaimed water, and an energy efficient heating
and cooling system to name a few. See the gallery at the bottom of the post for images from the Grand Opening.
This is the first green building project for the Town of Cary and will serve as a pilot for other projects. Many of these sustainable features are brought to you by a grant from the EPA that helped the Town of Cary include green features into the construction of this building. Our very own Yes! Solar Solutions provided the panels for the solar thermal AND solar photovoltaic systems (These systems will generate approximately 13% of the total energy used at the station)! You can see some images in the gallery below of the inner-workings of the system.
The EPA grant also included a program the Town of Cary is facilitating to help other fire departments reduce their energy use. This program, titled the Chief’s Energy Challenge, is a friendly, three-year challenge issued to fire departments nationwide to reduce their energy use by 10% in the first year and by 20% by year three. Many of the energy reduction strategies can be accomplished by low and no cost steps. Other measures may cost more but could easily be incorporated into upcoming renovations, repairs, or replacements. We recently wrote about this program on another blog post.
Why is this blog-worthy and how does that tie in with Fire Station 8? Because Fire Station 8 is a showcase for how municipalities can save money and better serve their community by reducing energy use. What is remarkable is the Town is facilitating the Chief’s Energy Challenge for the benefit of municipalities everywhere. They worked with the City of Raleigh, City of Durham, and Town of Chapel Hill to get the program started, collect lessons learned (check out the case studies and cool videos!), and share best practices. In fact, the Town of Cary hosted a station-to-station challenge as a fun way to reduce energy use among their existing stations and to pilot the program. They had some stations that reduced their energy use by more than 14% in just 5 months!
But back to the Grand Opening. After a lot of hard work, this fire station has finally come to fruition. This event was the culmination of vision, determination, and a commitment to being a leader in the region (and in the nation) for reducing their environmental footprint. Congratulations! We can’t wait to see what happens next!