Salt Lake City Introduces its First Net Zero and LEED Gold-certified Fire Station
On May 17th, 2018, Salt Lake City opened its first net-zero fire station, which means that the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is equal to the amount of renewable energy created on site. Designed by Blalock + Partners, this 17,000 sq. ft. building is contributing to Salt Lake City’s 100 percent renewable-energy goal. It features specialized insulation, natural light, and other energy-saving items. SLC Station Number 14 is the first-ever net-zero energy, LEED Gold-certified fire station in the U.S.
The original Station 14 was constructed in 1968 on the site of a World War II munitions plant. Once it was converted to a fire station, it became home to three crews. The original building had its challenges and was not designed to work and operate with the crews as efficiently as possible. When the idea to build a new station arose, the major challenge faced by architect Kevin Blalock was how to design and achieve a net-zero building, the first of its kind in the country. Due to Utah’s new mandate for more energy-efficient municipal buildings, it was equally important to show the country that how to contribute to energy efficiency by designing and building structures that are as energy efficient as possible. The new station is located in a commercial area with better access to the main highways for community access, but it also features a plethora of sustainability and efficiency initiatives never before seen in a municipal building.
Some of the many key sustainability features of Fire Station 14 include:
- 300 solar panels on the roof that generate enough electricity to offset 100% of the power consumption of the building.
- Thoughtfully planned electrical systems with LED lighting and occupancy sensors throughout the building to help conserve energy.
- A passive cooling system utilizing shading, high-performance glass, and high-speed fans was used to avoid excess energy consumption. Contact switches were also installed to turn off any mechanical heating and cooling units when a door or window is open.
- To reduce water consumption, low-flow plumbing fixtures, xeriscaping, and drought-tolerant plantings were incorporated. The plumbing fixtures alone reduce water usage by 20 percent.
- A geothermal heat pump system that provides heating and cooling to the mechanical system was used, and it also assists in reducing air pollution.
- Triple-pane glazing was used as part of the high-performance building envelope.
When looking for the right material that was both aesthetically pleasing and durable to clad the exterior of the fire station, architects looked toward Rieder’s unitized glass fibre reinforced concrete panels. Specifically, öko skin panels were used to clad the facility because of its modern attributes and physical properties Blalock says he chose öko skin panels to clad Fire Station 14 because this material needed to visually suggest the strength of the building to the community The natural look of Rieder’s products helped create this dense and strong structural appearance as well as helped to ensure the net-zero facility’s facade allowed for integrated energy efficiency.
öko skin panels are composed of glass fibre reinforced concrete that is a natural material and creates a concrete-like surface. It is resistant in nature and requires minimum maintenance in contrast to alternative options. It does not require any staining or painting because the material attains its color from natural pigments that are added during the production process—each panel is then naturally cured, thus creating a through-colored panel. This product achieves the result that Blalock had envisioned and fulfills the challenge of creating and utilizing efficient materials for the long-term sustainability of the fire station. More importantly, extruded concrete panels are ultra thin and lightweight in addition to being exceptionally strong and durable. They are also non-combustible and considered a high-performance concrete—which is the perfect option for this civic building. The cladding was such a good fit, that they are also featured on Salt Lake City’s Firestation No. 3, which is the second net-zero municipal building in Utah and the U.S.