New Franklin PUD facility built green

PASCO -- Franklin Public Utility District unveiled a renovated, 21st century administration building Friday.

Shaded windows with solar awnings, a solar curtain wall with windows, new insulation, a solar fresh air preheater and low-flush toilets are some of the energy-efficient amenities of the $4.5 million renovated PUD administration building in downtown Pasco.

Solar modules now allow for natural lighting in some work areas without making them too hot. There's also LED lighting in the parking lot at 1411 W. Clark St., and there are even some recharging stations in the lot for battery-powered cars, Terence L. Thornill, a Pasco-based project architect, told a group gathered for the dedication ceremony in the new auditorium.

The PUD's 23,000 customers also will find the redesigned building more user-friendly, said General Manager Ed Brost. There's a new customer service counter and drive-up for people to pay bills, and the building's phone system also has been upgraded.

"We're prepared now for more growth," said Brost, noting the building was built in 1957 and renovations were sorely needed.

Overall, the redesigned building reflects Franklin PUD's commitment to energy conservation, sustainable development and quality customer service, said PUD Commissioner Chuck Hall.

Franklin PUD, which paid for the work through proceeds from bonds and cash reserves, began work on the renovation more than two years ago. Management of the PUD decided early in the process to commit to energy-efficient renovations to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification standards.

Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system that provides third-party verification that a building is designed to save energy and water, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and offer education and improved indoor environmental quality.

"It means building it smart and using our resources in a smart way," Thornhill said.

There are 39 solar panels, including a solar curtain wall with windows behind it shading the hallway leading to the auditorium. The 12 panels can generate more than 2,000 watts of power, and the cascade design allows water and snow or ice to easily flow off.

Solar awnings shading the south side windows can produce more than 4,500 watts, while also allowing the sun to heat inside rooms in winter and offer shade in summer. And a solar fresh air preheater -- which draws fresh air in all seasons for indoor air quality -- uses less energy to bring outside air to indoor temperatures.

Planter boxes and trellises were installed in front of two west-facing windows, where fast-growing vines will be planted in the spring to create shade in the summer, Thornhill said. The vines will be cut back in winter to allow more sun.

"A lot of the criticism of solar is curb appeal. Our challenge was to show it looks good from the curb, and we think this does," said Todd Blackman, energy services specialist.