Greening up the Works in Santa Fe County

Santa Fe County Public Works - Vehicle Wash Building

When you think of sustainable architecture, energy efficiency and environmental awareness do you think of your local government? The Santa Fe County Board of Commissioners were thinking ahead to rising energy and building maintenance costs and departmental growth when they requested designs for a new Public Works Facility. The new Santa Fe Public Works Facility is a result of forward-thinking public servants and a sustainable architect coming together to build a campus designed for the long run.

Santa Fe County includes the city of Santa Fe and a rapidly growing group of communities across 1,911 square miles of north-central New Mexico. The Public Works Division manages roads, development planning, water and wastewater, solid waste and recycling for the county. This nuts and bolts work may not be exciting, but is vital to the functioning of Santa Fe County. Given the business of the Public Works Division and the price of real estate in Santa Fe the new facility is located on the south-western, industrial edge of Santa Fe.

With all of these practical factors and the no-nonsense nature of the Public Works Division it is even more impressive that the campus was built to the LEED Gold standard. Why build a utilitarian public works facility to such a high standard? Because, building to LEED standards creates healthy, efficient and durable structures. Since this facility will be used for decades a little planning now will pay off for years to come.

Some of the efficient and environmentally friendly elements of the new Public Works Facility designed by sustainable architect Michael Freeman include:

  • Passive Natural Energy Systems - passive solar heating with trombe walls, natural ventilation using operable windows, and extensive natural lighting
  • Active Renewable Energy Systems - 10KW wind turbine, solar panels for water pre-heating, buildings are pre-wired for solar photovoltaic panels, capacity to add a biomass-fired boiler
  • High Efficiency Buildings - a central 1,000,000 BTU boiler heating 29,000 sq. feet of buildings, efficient rooftop evaporative coolers for ventilation and cooling, efficient lighting with room occupancy sensors, low-flow water fixtures, vehicle wash building filters and recycles water 7 times.
  • Natural and Recycled Materials - linoleum flooring, aspen tree fiber acoustic ceiling tiles, Energy-Star rated appliances, recycled cellulose insulation (R-50 ceiling, R-29 walls), recycled steel building structure and exterior cladding
  • Site Rehabilitation - the site is a reclaimed gravel mine, extensive re-vegetation using xeric and native plants, roof rainwater catchment system with 50,000 gallon capacity will irrigate plantings

View the newly constructed Santa Fe County Public Works Facility in the
Architecture and Construction Gallery

More Info

Wind Turbine to Provide Electricity for New County Building

Santa Fe County - Growth Management Department

Wikipedia - Santa Fe County, NM

US Green Building Council - LEED