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  T&D > T&D Pubs > Sustainability Solutions > Sustainability Solutions No. 4: Leased Fire Center Built With Energy Conservation in Mind T&D Web Header
Leased Fire Center Built With Energy Conservation in Mind
Photo of the Tucson Interagency Fire Center.
Figure 1—The Tucson Interagency Fire Center was designed to achieve LEED certification at the silver level.

The new Tucson Interagency Fire Center may be a leased building, but it was built with energy conservation in mind. The building was designed to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver certification (figure 1).

When viewed from the outside, the facility's most notable feature is the 2-kilowatt grid-tied solar system that is expected to generate 32,000 kilowatt hours annually—roughly enough power for three homes. Before summer heat required air conditioning, the electric bill for the 10,000-square-foot building was just $300 a month.

Photo of solar panel array in parking lot with vehicles beneath.
Figure 2—The center's solar array provides shaded parking for 12 vehicles.

The electricity produced by the solar panels will reduce carbon dioxide production by about 36,765 pounds, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of three automobiles. The solar system not only produces electricity, it provides shaded parking for 12 vehicles (figure 2).

The building's sustainable features include energy-efficient lighting, high-performance glass, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and white roof surfaces to reflect heat. The building is near Tucson's airport. Extra ceiling insulation dampens sound—important for a dispatch center—and helps make the building more energy efficient.

Photo runoff channels.
Figure 3—Landscaping includes runoff channels and reservoirs to control erosion and sedimentation.

The landscape design was based on xeriscaping (using drought-tolerant plants and landscaping elements) to reduce the need for irrigation. Reservoirs designed into the surrounding landscaping (figure 3) reduce erosion and control sedimentation from thunderstorms and flash flooding.

Prime parking places have been designated for low-emission vehicles. Bicycle racks and lockers were incorporated into the facility's design, as were showers and changing facilities.

Photo of barrier made of rocks in mesh.
Figure 4—Gabions, wire baskets filled with native
rock, provide a low-cost crash barrier.

Gabions (wire baskets-filled with native rocks) in front of the building produce a low-cost crash barrier (figure 4).

For more information on the Tucson Interagency Fire Center, contact Cheryl Dickson at the Coronado National Forest, 520–202–2704,

We're interested in what is happening on your unit. Contact Bob Beckley at 406–329–3996 to share your sustainability solutions with others in the Forest Service.