Coyote Ridge first prison in U.S. to get top green award

By Kristi Pihl, Herald staff writerAugust 4, 2010 

CONNELL -- Coyote Ridge Corrections Center is the first prison campus to meet national standards for its green and energy-saving practices, officials say.

The Connell prison received a LEED Gold certification Tuesday for the green-building techniques and energy-saving measures incorporated in the 2008 prison expansion.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the U.S. Green Building Council's green-building standard. Gold is the second highest rating a project can receive.

Coyote Ridge is the first prison in the world where the entire campus has met the LEED standard, said David Jansen, Department of Corrections capital programs administrator.

Sustainability is a part of every day at Coyote Ridge, said Jeff Uttecht, Coyote Ridge superintendent.

Where some facilities have grass, Coyote Ridge has gravel.

The prison also uses low-flow fixtures such as 1.5-gallons-per-minute showers and 1.1-gallons-per-flush toilets, according to information from DOC.

Using less water decreases Coyote Ridge's demand on Connell's aquifer, said Glenn Jones, Coyote Ridge facility manager.

The prison's laundry system also reuses the heat and some water, he said.

And Coyote Ridge's recycling program cuts the facility's amount of garbage in half, Jones said.

Jansen said the department is impressed with the facility's performance so far. DOC has the goal of being a national leader in sustainability.

The state Legislature mandated that Coyote Ridge meet LEED Silver standards, Jansen said.

"We did better than we hoped," he said.

The recent prison expansion added a 2,048-bed medium security section to the 600-bed minimum security facility.

The prison had 46 percent of its building materials come from recycled sources, reduced water use by 32 percent and used 45 percent locally-made building materials, according to information provided by DOC. The facility also has solar panels.

And of the 27,500 tons of material removed from the site during construction, 160 tons ended up in a landfill. Jansen said the rest was recycled.

Sustainable buildings save money, which is important now when resources are becoming scarce, said Eldon Vail, DOC secretary.

Building the prison to LEED standards did not add to the overall cost, Jansen said.

Receiving the LEED rating does require a fee to the building council, but that was offset by energy rebates, he said.

The state also will benefit long-term from reduced utility costs because of decreased use of water, sewer, natural gas and electricity, Jansen said.

Coyote Ridge will use about 20 million fewer gallons of water and produce about 70 million fewer gallons of sewage per year than a similar-size prison, Jansen said.

The exact energy savings at Coyote Ridge is uncertain because all the units aren't open yet, Jansen said. The department estimates it will have a 32 percent reduction in energy use when compared to a similar-size facility.

Coyote Ridge had 1,937 inmates on Tuesday, Uttecht said.

The facility has been gaining new prisoners since the state decided to transfer inmates to the newly expanded prison while closing portions of older prisons to save money. The state also brought back prisoners to Washington who were being held in other states.

Four units have opened since the beginning of the year to accommodate new prisoners, Uttecht has said. Two more units are expected to be open before the end of the year, which would put the prison close to its maximum of 2,468 prisoners.

One of the remaining two empty units will open Aug. 16.

But on Tuesday, prison officials were focused on celebrating their new award.

A light bulb illuminates the LEED Gold certification glass plaque.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512;

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