Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 72 mixes red and ‘green’

October 11, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Solar panels line the rooftop of Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 72. Contributed

Station 72 is designed to lessen impact on environment

The red accents on Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 72 offer a traditional package for the “green” features embedded throughout the building.

Station 72 is the most energy efficient fire station on the planet. The city and EFR spearheaded a project to create a next-generation facility as a showcase for “green” innovations in Issaquah and a model for other fire departments.

“We’re proud of the fact that we’ve got a fire station built that meets our needs,” EFR Chief Lee Soptich said. “We’re also really proud of the fact that we’re doing everything we can not to cause more problems for the environment.”

Crews completed the station for $6.8 million — less than the total $8 million budget. Fire District 10 also put funds into the project. (The district encompasses Klahanie, May Valley and Preston in the Issaquah area.)

Station 72 planners said the building could deliver dividends — in reduced energy costs and, hence, less public money — during the decades ahead.

“The citizens of today are giving a gift to the citizens of tomorrow,” said Wes Collins, EFR deputy chief of planning.

Brad Liljequist, project manager for Station 72 and zHome, a carbon-neutral community in the Issaquah Highlands, said such buildings act as a bulwark against future spikes in energy costs.

“We know that energy prices are going to go up,” he said. “They may go up pretty radically over time. So, in a way, we’re kind of prepaying a lot of our energy costs.”

Liljequist said although data is abundant about “green” residences and commercial buildings, information is scarcer for a public facility such as a fire station.

“We set out to build a fire station that was very energy efficient and was a healthy indoor environment for the firefighters,” he said.

‘Building “green” isn’t as hard’

A rainbow of fire hoses retired from service and a horse-drawn hose cart hang in a staircase at Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 72 during the Oct. 8 public open house. By Greg Farrar

Construction started on a barren site adjacent to the Issaquah Transit Center last June. Upon completion a year later, Station 72 achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum status.

Under LEED, projects receive points for sustainable features. The certification levels range from Certified, at the lowest level, to Silver, Gold and Platinum.

“I said, ‘I do not want us to even look at the LEED checklist until we’re basically done with the design process,’” Liljequist said.

The team behind the facility also learned lessons from EFR Station 73 in the highlands. In 2003, the highlands station became the inaugural LEED Silver fire station in the United States.

“Comparing Station 72 and Station 73 is like — I probably shouldn’t say it quite like this — it’s kind of like comparing my old 1990 Miata with a brand-new, top-of-the-line BMW,” Liljequist said. “I’m not saying that from a cost standpoint. I’m saying that from a performance standpoint.”

Designers incorporated waterless urinals in Station 73, but the fixtures proved difficult to clean, so Station 72 planners opted for rainwater urinals. The fixtures use a pint of rainwater per flush. Rainwater is collected in a metal cistern — maximum capacity: 8,700 gallons — outside the station.

Maintenance is simple due to the polished concrete floors throughout the facility. The station lacks carpet to collect dust or other contaminants.

“Building ‘green’ isn’t as hard as I thought it would be,” Collins said.

Kevin Charap, operations manager for Northwest Wind & Solar, a contractor on the project, said planners set lofty targets for energy efficiency.

“They really tried to maximize the available roof space with a solar array,” he said. “In a lot of situations, either a customer’s budget or a smaller ratings target is what’s driving the target.”

‘This is a community resource’

Firefighters started to operate from the building in August. Citizens toured the facility during a public open house Oct. 8.

“Everything we’re hearing from the firefighters is that it looks like it was designed around what the firefighters need — the workspaces, the sleeping areas, the flow of the building — we’re just getting great reviews from the firefighters,” Soptich said.

Firefighter Mark Eastwood said Station 72 is a major upgrade from the old facility — a mobile home and a garage designed to last for a few years and instead used for more than a decade.

The facility is “much better than being in a doublewide mobile home and a garage,” he said.

Station 72 also started to attract interest from other fire departments before crews completed construction. The project is designed as a showcase for energy efficient and “green” elements.

“Most of the time in the fire service, rarely do we have an original thought,” Soptich said. “It’s usually, ‘Hey, I saw something I liked over here and I saw something else over here, and let’s incorporate both of those in ours.’ Then, that kind of becomes the new standard.”

The project is due to receive some international attention in late October, as a contingent from a firefighters conference in Seattle tours Station 72.

“This is a community resource,” Soptich said. “It’s one of the, what we think, showcase pieces of the city for a developing area.”

City Council members authorized design work on a replacement station in 2007. Issaquah residents pushed the replacement process along in November 2008, and passed a $4.5 million construction bond to build the facility.

Liljequist said important support for the project came from Mayor Ava Frisinger and council members.

“I couldn’t deliver a building like this — or zHome — without a mandate,” he added.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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