Greening the prison-industrial complex

The energy efficient, green upgrades movement has reached beyond commercial office buildings. The greening of U.S prison systems shows how a commitment to energy efficient and renewable-energy technologies can benefit all building types.

03/06/2009


The energy efficient, green upgrades movement has reached beyond commercial office buildings. Home to more than two million Americans, the greening of U.S prison systems shows a re-commitment to energy efficient and renewable energy technologies. Nationwide, states have been incorporating energy efficient6 techniques in various programs and building designs.

An inmate shovels waste onto a compost heap at Cedar Creek Correctional Center. Source: Boston Herald.
The Washington State Dept. of Corrections boats 34 LEED-certified facilities, with 923,789 sq ft of LEED-certified space added in 2008. At the Cedar Creek Corrections Center, Littlerock, Wash., inmates report to a compost heap for work duty; instead of a kitchen or boiler room. The inmates at Cedar Creek grow organic produce and compost the mass amounts of waste the prison creates. The state of Washington is not alone in its quest to green their prisons.

In the fall of 2008, the California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced 16 new green retrofitting projects. The projects will save an estimated $3.2 million in energy costs each year. The 16 energy efficiency retrofit projects statewide will save 25-million-kW-hrs and 650,000 therms of energy each year at CDCR facilities, the equivalent of taking 3,770 cars off the road. The retrofit projects at each prison are conducted by private contractors, and include HVAC retrofits, lighting retrofits, and motor upgrades. Part of the cost is paid for by investor owned utilities (IOU’s) at no cost to the state General Fund.

IOU’s include Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison Company, Southern California Gas Company, and San Diego Gas and Electric Company. The remaining funds for the projects were secured through low-interest loans from the Dept. of General Services.

The Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, Calif., is one of two prisons in California that features solar power fields. At Ironwood, the 1.18 MW solar-power plant provides enough electricity to power a quarter of the prison’s needs. The 6,000 solar panels cover 13 acres of land at Ironwood and will save $50,000 in utility costs per year. SunEdison built and maintains the plants with its ownAlameda County Juvenile Correctional Center. Source: Hensel Phelps Construction
money.

California currently has solar power fields at two facilities, and is building six more in the coming year. The recently completed, $176-million juvenile detention facility in Alameda County, Calif., became the country’s first prison to receive LEED gold certification.





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