How this new fire station will use 70 percent less energy

See what makes Madison (Wis.) Fire Department's new Station 13 so green; plus, 10 green lighting technologies for fire departments


Madison is committed to reducing energy use and emissions in city facilities. One of the city's most recent success stories is the Madison (Wis.) Fire Department's Station 13.

"Madison believes in being a leader in progressive building design and sustainability and sets a positive example for all projects in the City of Madison," said Asst. Chief Clay Christenson. "The city has a goal of attaining a minimum of LEED [leadership in energy and environmental design] Silver rating or equivalent for all city projects."

The site planning for the new Station 13 was part of a feasibility study that took into account many of the sustainable site-planning strategies outlined in the LEED guidelines.

The parcel was sized to support the building footprint, circulation around the site and some area for proper storm water management. A detailed survey indicated access to utilities and storm water management capacity, plus site characteristics that could affect building design and construction.

Water and energy conservation

The plumbing, fire-protection and landscape-irrigation systems all align with LEED water conservation targets. Water usage should be reduced by at least 30 percent.

The station's water conservation measures include landscape design with native, drought tolerant plants (no irrigation system was installed); toilets with dual-flush capabilities; showers with low-flow showerheads (1.75 gpm); active solar hot water system for domestic use in conjunction with high-efficiency natural gas water heaters; and connection to the HVAC geothermal system to further supplement domestic hot water.

The building's mechanical system is a geothermal system with vertical borefield. The system also includes a variable air volume air handler with split system variable-speed geothermal heat pump and nine cooling-only variable air volume shutoff boxes.

The geothermal system generates heat for hot water, distributed outside air preconditioned with fixed-plate enthalpic energy recovery, and has an integral geothermal heat pump for heating and dehumidification.

The apparatus bay makeup air and heating is preconditioned with a fixed-plate enthalpic energy recovery system with supplemental hot water heating coil. There is hot water radiant flooring for the apparatus bay, sleeping and living quarters, and command center.

The overhead supply ductwork uses the plenum ceiling as a return; the entire system is operated by direct digital controls with a graphical type operator work station and web-accessed capability.

Light it up

In addition to the inherent on-site renewable energy embodied in the geothermal heat exchange mechanical system, Fire Station 13 has an impressive array of photovoltaic panels on the roof. These active solar electric panels are expected to satisfy nearly 20 percent of the station's electric demand.

Station 13 is deliberately laid out to use the daylight coming in through the windows. Interior lighting is designed to use approximately 20 percent less energy than that allowed by the ASHRAE 90.1-2007 energy code.

The station's interior lighting uses LED lights, as well as high-efficiency fluorescent (T8 and T5) overhead lighting with electronic ballasts. Daylight delivery and automatic daylight controls are also part of the design. Site lighting includes pole-mounted LED fixtures, as well as wall-mounted security LED lighting.

The combined result of all these energy-saving strategies is an overall performance rating that exceeds comparable fire station buildings by nearly 70 percent. The baseline energy use intensity for a building of this type is 146 kBTUs per square foot per year; Madison Station 13 is currently testing at 44 kBTU per square foot per year.

10 energy-saving lighting technologies

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, lighting represents 40 percent of the average commercial building's electric bill. The lighting industry is responding to the demand for better efficiency with energy-efficient products that can significantly reduce lighting energy costs while maintaining or improving lighting quality.

Here are 10 technologies for reducing energy costs and improving the quality of lighting in fire stations and other facilities.

1. Green Light Technologies' ParkLight garage lighting fixtures are designed for indoor and outdoor illumination of large open spaces like fire station apparatus bays, airplane hangers, skating rinks, etc. The fixtures use high-intensity fluorescent tubes, which have significant advantages over conventional systems that use high-intensity discharge tubes; HIF tubes use less energy while delivering better quality light.

The ParkLight fixtures have a vapor-tight fixture with a specially designed reflector to provide broader and brighter light distribution, while cutting energy use by 30 to 70 percent. The vapor-tight design also ensures that the fixtures operate continuously in all climates and temperatures, even sub-zero.

2. Schneider Electric's Energy Insight control offering won best-of-category in controls, building integration, site automation and distribution systems at the LIGHTFAIR Innovation Awards.

The company offers C-Bus networked lighting control, Powerlink intelligent panel boards, occupancy/light level sensors, and measurement and verification panel boards. They combine automated and web-enabled control with occupancy-based solutions and dimming capabilities.

3. Lutron's Radio Powr Savr occupancy sensor requires no wiring and installs in minutes. The sensor turns lights off when room is unoccupied and can easily be positioned for optimal coverage.

It is ideal small office spaces, restrooms, and administrative alcoves and has a 10-year battery life. The sensor works with up to 10 maestro wireless switches that are sold separately.

4. Induction lamps from American Green Technologies are highly efficient electrode-less fluorescent lamps that work in much the same way as fluorescent. Instead of using electrodes — which are failure points — a frequency generator energizes an external magnetic field. This in turn excites a gas filled vacuum tube to create a luminous circuit.

Induction lamps have a long life expectancy, most often twice as long as LED, five to 13 times longer than metal halide and high-pressure sodium lamps, and five to seven times longer than standard fluorescent lamps. They offer excellent lighting distribution, full-spectrum color, and crisp white light, produce much higher Visually Effective Lumens per watt than LED, metal halide, fluorescent, or high pressure sodium lamps.

5. LED Tubes from GreenLighingLED can replace inefficient fluorescent lamps and provide better quality illumination and longer tube life for overhead interior lighting. LED tubes are manufactured in a variety of sizes and tube configurations to match existing light fixtures.

6. Lumen sensors from Verve can be used in conjunction with many Verve control products to help manage artificial light levels in a wide variety of interior spaces. The sensor monitors light levels within a space and transmits the information to a Verve controller that has been preconfigured with lighting set points to achieve the desired lighting levels within the space.

The controller compares the information to the preconfigured set points, determining whether more or less artificial lighting is required and adjusting light levels accordingly. The lumen sensor is wireless and can be installed in minutes because there are no additional wires to run and require no batteries, so on-going maintenance costs are eliminated.

7. The Spectrum line of skylight tubes from U.S. Sunlight can provide an abundance of clean, natural light comparable to full-size skylights, but without the expense and installation challenges that come with traditional skylights and roof windows.

Different from standard skylights, skylight tubes enable the user to capture light above the roof and tunnel it to just about any location in a building. For larger footprint installations, such as commercial buildings or warehouses, the Spectrum 21-inch tube provides a solution for brighter daylight in spaces with less restrictive installation scenarios.

8. U.S. Sunlight also offers a ventilation option. With snap-on, snap-off installation, the user can convert a Spectrum skylight tube into a passive ventilator. This simple addition makes the Spectrum series a good choice for restrooms, kitchens, garages, laundry rooms, and any place where daylight and ventilation are desired.

9. View's Dynamic Glass works by regulating the amount of heat and glare that permeates into a building, which helps occupants make better use of daylight and natural lighting. This, in turn, reduces the amount of electricity that must be used to cool or heat a building, or to light it up, by an average of 20 percent.

Dynamic Glass transitions through four variable tints to provide continuous unobstructed views without heat or glare. It can automatically adapt to changing external conditions or be controlled by a user to meet specific preferences.

10. Solar powered and grid-tie light systems from Sol Inc. are a reliable, renewable and remarkable way to light an outdoor space. Solar powered and on-grid lighting is an economic and environmental choice for parking lots, roadways and paths. In addition to the energy savings, such systems offer greatly reduced installation costs because the need for trenching and the laying of power cables is eliminated.

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