The Norman Transcript

November 1, 2011

Norman fire station earns new gold certification for being green

By Hannah Cruz
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — An open space flooded with light, a sparkly quartz compound countertop in a spacious kitchen, and a family-size wooden table are the first things that greet the firefighters in their second home at Norman fire station No. 8, and it’s green, too.

The station recently received notification that it has received LEED gold certification, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, an internationally recognized green building certification system through U.S. Green Building Council.

“We’re the first station in the state of Oklahoma to receive any LEED certification, so we received gold right off the back,” Norman Deputy Fire Chief Jim Bailey said. “Our station 9 will also seek LEED certification.”

After a public safety sales tax passed in May 2008 to bank the funds for two new fire stations, it was quickly determined by the City of Norman that the new buildings would be built to be energy sufficient.

The City used LEED as a way to verify that the new fire stations would be built using sustainable strategies. Station No. 9, due to begin construction in December on Alameda Street, will be a larger facility but will also seek LEED certification.

The City hired Kirkpatrick Architecture Studio firm from Denton, Texas, to build its green stations based on LEED’s performance categories: site selection and treatment, water efficiency, energy use, materials selected and the indoor environmental quality.

Bailey said the City hired Kirkpatrick Architecture because they had previous experience in building LEED certified fire stations. It was a natural fit, he said, and one that paid off by earning them the second-highest certification level for station No. 8.

The building features a variety of small and large energy efficient features, he said, such as drought resistant landscaping, automatic lighting, motion sensor lighting, solar tube lighting, highly insulated walls, and easy maintenance floors and countertops.

The entire station capitalizes on its resources, with 90 percent of common areas having access to daylight, over 20 percent of construction materials were recycled materials, and 50 percent less domestic water use. Bailey said this 10, 327 sq. ft. station will use 30 percent less energy than another station of the same size.

Built on 105 peers, the foundation has space between it and the soil to allow for soil expansion without affecting the quality of the foundation. Features such as this will allow the station to remain in high quality condition for years to come, Bailey said.

Though the station was built with energy efficiency in mind, it was also designed to appeal to the firefighters who would eventually work there.

“It’s just as easy to make it comfortable as industrial, than why not make it comfortable?,” he said. “I’ve been there, I’ve been in their spot and the more you can make it feel comfortable for them the better their attitudes are going to be.”

With blackout curtains in the sleeping areas, open living spaces filled with sunlight, a grill out back and an easily-accessible, open layout, firefighter Robert “Pokey” Darrow said that station No. 8 helps him relieve stress.

“I’m not sitting here gloomy,” he said. “I mean station 7 — I feel like I was in the military again.”

Firefighter Chad Roney said he appreciates the energy efficiency, but the effect the new building has on his mood makes all the difference.

“My favorite part would probably be all the natural light coming in,” Roney said. “It makes it really comfortable. And definitely, I’m not just reading off the plaque, but it does affect your mood. If you’re in a dungeon all the time you’re not going to be near as happy.”

Hannah Cruz 366-3540 hcruz@normantranscript.com