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Public Safety Building is greenest of the green in the country

SALT LAKE CITY — The city's new Public Safety Building is the first building of its kind in the country to earn a "net zero" energy rating, meaning it generates as much energy as it uses.

Open for just a few months and home to the city's police and fire departments as well as emergency dispatchers, the 174,000-square-foot building features a roof canopy of solar panels, an off-site solar farm and takes advantage of natural lighting with abundant and strategically placed windows.

Designed by GSBS Architects with a specific goal to achieve the net zero rating, the building uses LED low-energy lights, taps into a solar hot water heating system, and its energy use is tracked by a monitoring system.

Salt Lake City was recently recognized by the Utah Pollution Prevention Association and Clean Utah because of the building, garnering the 2013 "Outstanding Award" for pollution prevention in the state.

"Salt Lake City has made an important investment in Utah’s community,” said Amanda Smith, executive director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, in a statement. "Their demonstrated commitment to protecting the environment is motivating others to take big and small actions to help ensure that Utah remains a great place to live and work.”

The recognition notes that a traditional building of comparable size would produce 2,670 metric tons of greenhouse gases, while the Public Safety Building will produce just 524 metric tons of greenhouses a year.

Those emissions, however, will be offset by generated solar power that enables the building to reach that net zero efficiency. Such a system landed the structure an Energy Star performance rating of 100, which is the highest possible, because of its energy use and emissions.

In 2009, voters approved a $125 million bond to pay for the Public Safety Building, giving police officers, firefighters and dispatchers a new home to replace another structure well past its prime.

Art Raymond, spokesman for Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, said the award represents the commitment of residents on a variety of levels.

"Truly, we accept this award on behalf of our residents that both approved funding for this project in 2009, and continue to let us know that responsible, forward-looking planning for a sustainable future is required of Salt Lake City government leaders," he said. "There is no better reminder of how critical these kind of efforts are than the haze we can see hanging above the valley right now as we begin the inversion season."

In addition to its "green" features, the building at 475 S. 300 East is designed to remain operational during a 7.5-magnitude earthquake.

Awards for pollution prevention were also given to Momentum Recycling and Northrup Grumman.

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