Charleston County strikes LEED certified gold

  • Thursday, December 12, 2013

Charleston County’s Consolidated 9-1-1 Center and Emergency Operations Center received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Charleston County’s Consolidated 9-1-1 Center and Emergency Operations Center received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Though not the first public safety facility, it is the first 9-1-1 call center and first emergency operations center in the state of South Carolina to be LEED certified, and the 14th LEED certified emergency operations center in the U.S. (see list of S.C. city and county LEED registered and certified projects: http://www.charlestoncounty.org/pdfs/Local-Gor-131028.pdf).

Bachman Smith, IV, a current member and incoming 2014 chair of the U.S. Green Building Council South Carolina Chapter, presented a plaque to Charleston County Council during its regular meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 10. The plaque will be displayed in the lobby of the Charleston County’s Consolidated 9-1-1 Center and Emergency Operations Center.

“LEED certification identifies Consolidated 911 & Emergency Ops Center as a showcase example of sustainable design and demonstrates your leadership in transforming the building industry,” said S. Richard Fedrezzi, president, CEO and founding chairman of the U. S. Green Building Council, in a letter notifying the county of the certification. “Congratulations on earning LEED certification, and thank you for your commitment to our common goal of building a healthy, sustainable future.”

The LEED rating system was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council and is designed to guide and distinguish high performance “green” buildings. The process provides a nationally recognized system for understanding and applying smart, sustainable design practices with third-party validation.

Some highlights of the LEED Gold Certification:

• Sustainable site design

• Water efficiency

• Optimal energy performance

• Use of regional and recycled materials

• Enhanced indoor air quality

Due to its “mission critical” nature, the center requires energy and water during disasters. The facility achieves this through redundant mechanical and electrical systems designed to meet high efficiency performance goals. As a result, the facility expects to achieve 23 percent energy savings over similar facilities designed with traditional systems.

The county planned all along to aim for LEED certification, as shown by council’s Sept. 1, 2009 vote directing staff to pursue the effort.

“The county is putting forth significant effort into energy conservation, sustainability and good stewardship of the area’s natural resources,” wrote Charleston County’s Facilities Department Director, Dan Chandler, in the information packet that was given to County Council members prior to the September ’09 vote. “There is an opportunity to publicly demonstrate our commitment to continue these endeavors by incorporating LEED certification into the design and construction of the new Consolidated 9-1-1 Center.”

The multi-jurisdictional Charleston County Consolidated Dispatch Board also encouraged the County to have the center be a LEED certified building.

“It is our understanding that, in addition to using resources more efficiently, LEED certification will result in a building that will offer a healthier work environment than a building that is built to regular code requirements,” stated then Consolidated Dispatch Board Chairman and North Charleston Police Chief, Jon Zumalt, in a 2009 letter to Charleston County Council. “Construction of the Consolidated 9-1-1 Center, having employees in stressful emergency job functions twenty-four hours a day, would be an excellent opportunity to focus on healthy work environment goals as well as environmental sustainability goals.”

The county’s newly constructed 38,000-square-foot facility opened on Jan. 24 at a cost of $27 million. The structure was designed by Rosenblum Coe Architects, in association with Architects Design Group. It has a dual purpose in that it houses two of Charleston County Government’s major departments: the Consolidated 9-1-1 Center and Emergency Management Department. In essence, it enables the full consolidation of 9-1-1 and emergency dispatch operations in Charleston County and serves as the new location for the Emergency Operations Center.

The Consolidated 9-1-1 Center staffs 24 telecommunicators and supervisors per shift to provide their internationally accredited service to the public, law enforcement officials, firefighters and emergency medical services personnel. The county’s Emergency Operations Center is maintained in a state of operational readiness at all times. The group is also responsible for developing and maintaining the county’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, which provides emergency management planning for the entire county.

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