S.P. Makes Police Station 'Green'
Southern Pines is making every effort to ensure that its new police station will be environmentally friendly.
The new building, which will be constructed on Pennsylvania Avenue next to the Fire Department, will have enough "green," or environmentally friendly aspects, to make it nearly certifiable for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
"When we as a town have a project like this, it's an opportunity for us to demonstrate to our citizens what it means to be environmentally responsible," Mayor Mike Haney said.
The price tag of the building was originally estimated at $6.4 million but is likely to increase now that the Town Council has committed to making it as green as possible and with construction costs continuing to rise.
Some of the green aspects include storm water work that is already under way, automatic shut-off sinks, low-flow toilets, upgraded lights and windows, and use of green construction materials.
"Everything is starting to come together," said Rick Baker, assistant town manager and head of public safety. "I've been very happy with the way things are going so far."
With the new police station, which is going to be built where the town dump once was, the council wanted to set an example of how to build with an eye toward the environment, Haney said. After the building is completed, the council will have a stronger position from which to ask developers to use green techniques.
"It would be disingenuous to say to folks, 'You need to be environmentally friendly,' without an example of what we've done," Haney said. "So we can just point to that."
LEED certification is a rating system designed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Each construction technique that takes the environment into account is worth one or more points. A building needs 26 points to be certified.
Some of the points are easy to obtain. For example, a point is awarded for having a bike rack outside the building. Others are expensive.
Though the new police station will be near the 26-point threshold, the town is not attempting to obtain the certification, nor will it refer to the building as being certifiable.
Rather, the Town Council collectively decided to include as many green aspects as were fiscally responsible.
"Where is that line?" Haney said. "We, kind of as a group, decided that it's not good use of the taxpayer money to go totally LEED certified. It's a good chunk of change."
Certification requires inspection from several outside parties that are costly, and council members felt it was not worth the added expense.
For example, keeping light pollution to a minimum is a key component of a green building. Southern Pines' building code already requires light fixtures that do not pollute the night sky. But to earn the LEED point for decreasing light pollution, the town would have to bring in an outside firm to certify that the lights actually do what they are intended to do.
The council didn't feel that it would be cost effective to take several similar steps.
"If money were no object, of course you would make it totally green," Haney said. "You'd do everything. But sometimes that last inch costs a whole lot of money."
The building can't be constructed soon enough for the Police Department. The department has been temporarily quartered in the former Access Printing building off U.S. 1 beside the public works complex and Recreation Center for over two years. The Public Works Department will take over that building when the new police station is finished.
"We're busting at the seams," Police Chief John Letteney said.
The department is running out of room to store evidence, and it has had to convert a conference room into an office. However, Letteney said that taking the extra time to make sure the building is healthy for those working in it and visiting it is worth it.
"Rather than rush into something that does not meet our needs," he said, "the slow and methodical approach is the way to go."
Contact Matthew Moriarty at 693-2479 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story