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Fairfax County Continues 'Green' Building Emphasis

August 30, 2005

The old will become new when Fairfax County erects its second green building, the Crosspointe Fire Station in Lorton. It will feature flooring made from recycled car tires and recycled airplane windshields. This new fire station, which the Board of Supervisors recently approved for construction, will be built following national standards for green building construction.

The project is part of the county’s pilot program to test green building techniques, which advances the board’s commitment to environmental protection.

Construction on the Crosspointe station is expected to start by the end of August, with completion scheduled for November 2006. The new 14,600-square-foot fire station will be located in Lorton on Hampton Road at the intersection with Ox Road. The project’s architect is Samaha Associates P.C. in Fairfax, and the contractor is American Property Construction Company in Alexandria.

“Green buildings are good for the environment and good for taxpayers’ wallets,” said Carey Needham, with the building design branch of the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services. “Green buildings help the county save money in the long run because they conserve energy and water use.”

Four years ago, the county’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services started the pilot program. The agency selected new buildings to be constructed using the national standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Building Program, or LEED for short.

The county’s first green building project, the Fairfax Center Fire Station at the intersection of Legato Road and Lee Highway, is scheduled to be completed in fall 2005. In addition, the new Oakton and Burke Center library branches also will be built using LEED standards.

Because of its energy-efficient design, the Crosspointe station is predicted to save the county money by reducing total energy usage by 20-30 percent compared to a conventionally designed station. County officials estimate this reduced energy usage will yield a savings of approximately $10,000 per year. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that buildings consume 39 percent of energy used in the county, more than manufacturing plants or cars.

Part of the station’s energy efficiency is derived from its environmentally conscious roof, which will help reduce cooling and heating bills. In the summer, the roof will reflect the sun, keeping the building cool. However, in winter, the roof will direct more sunlight into the building, helping to warm it naturally.

Natural light will be maximized, which also promotes energy conservation. The station is designed so that more than 75 percent of its occupied areas will be illuminated with daylight. Natural light helps curtail electric and cooling costs because artificial lights consume energy and generate heat. Artificial lighting accounts for as much as 40-50 percent of the energy consumption in many commercial and institutional buildings, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The station also will be built with water conservation in mind. Low-flow toilets and other efficient plumbing fixtures will be installed. It is expected that the station will conserve about 85,000 gallons of water per year compared to a traditionally designed station.

Inside the building, recycled and renewable building materials will be used as much as possible. Floors, for example, will be laid with bamboo, cork, recycled tires and tiles made of recycled airplane windshields. Toilet partitions will use recycled plastic. The casework for desks and cabinets will be formed with wheat-husk fiberboard, instead of the usual wood-pulp particleboard.

The station is designed to achieve a Silver Certification under the LEED Green Building Program. The LEED program, which was launched in 2000 by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council, sets a uniform, national standard for green design. Projects can be certified under its four-tiered rating system.

Nationwide, approximately 240 buildings have earned certification, and another 2,080 new construction projects have been registered with the intent to seek certification. More than 46 state, county and city governments have adopted policies requiring or encouraging the use of LEED. Notably, Virginia ranks as one of the top 10 states with LEED-certified buildings.

The U.S. Green Building Council, founded in 1993, is a nonprofit organization with more than 4,000 members, including building product manufacturers, architects, contractors and governments.

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