Climate Positive

Net-Zero Fire Station in Salt Lake City, Utah

by Heather West, president, Heather West Public Relations

In April 2020, Fire Station No. 14 in Salt Lake City, Utah, earned LEED® Gold certification through the United States Green Building Council for its energy-efficient, environmentally responsible design and construction.  When it opened in 2018, it was one of the first net-zero-energy (NZE) fire stations in the country, meaning it generates more energy than it consumes.  Helping achieve the building’s performance goals, Tubelite® Inc.’s triple-glazed thermal curtainwall, multi-pane storefront, and interior framing systems were installed by Mollerup Glass Co., North Salt Lake City.

         Nestled between the Wasatch and Oquirrh Mountains, Salt Lake City’s valley winter temperature inversions can act as a lid, trapping cold air and pollution for several days or weeks.  The State of Utah and Salt Lake City have invested in strategies and resources to improve the air quality and reduce potential health risks.

All photos by Cache Valley Photographers, courtesy of Tubelite Inc.

         Salt Lake City’s NZE facilities mandate and Climate Positive 2040 plan seeks to achieve net-100% renewable electricity by 2030 and to reduce carbon pollution by 80% by 2040.  Exemplifying this directive, Station 14 features a solar panel roof array, geothermal heating and cooling, and high-performance building envelope.  Creating the station’s high-performance façade, Tubelite Inc. provided its triple-glazed 400TU Series Therml=Block® curtainwall, as well as its T1400 I/O Series multi-pane storefront, operable windows, side entrance doors, and INT45 interior framing systems.

         “Our Therml=Block curtainwall offers a fully, thermally broken system engineered to meet or exceed today’s stringent energy codes and NZE designs,” said Tom Mifflin, Tubelite’s director of marketing.  “Even in extreme cold climates, Therml=Block products provide superior energy and condensation resistance performance using multiple thermal barriers, while providing structural integrity and aesthetic flexibility.”

         Energy-efficient thermal performance and condensation resistance, indoor air quality and natural ventilation, daylight, and views support projects seeking LEED certification.  These attributes also contribute to the physical and mental health and readiness of the firefighters who both live and work in the building.  Further contributing to the community’s environmental and economic goals, the building was designed for a lifespan of at least 50 years.

         Blalock & Partners Architectural Design Studio, Salt Lake City, worked with fire station specialist TCA Architecture + Planning, Seattle, Washington, to meet all of the project’s objectives.  Zwick Construction, Salt Lake City, led the project’s nearly two-year construction, staying on schedule for the May 2018 opening.  The two-story, 17,100 sq.ft. building includes a four-bay garage, dormitory rooms for 12 firefighters, a multipurpose room, a dayroom, an exercise room, a commercial kitchen, and a second-floor deck.

         Enclosing the two-story Fire Station No. 14, Tubelite’s triple-glazed 400TU Series incorporates dual, thermal polyamide insulating strut between the interior and exterior aluminum framing members to achieve U-Factors of 0.21 for thermal transmittance and a frame condensation resistance factor of 84.  The curtainwall’s enhanced thermal break is located in the tongue area of the back member.  The triple-glazed insulated glass is positioned to the system’s exterior for enhanced resistance to rainwater.  The glass units also were specified with a low-e coating and custom ceramic frit to manage solar heat gain.  Reducing unwanted solar heat and condensation, improves comfort, sanitation, and air quality inside the station.

         Minimizing both interior and exterior maintenance, all of Tubelite’s aluminum framing on this project was finished by Linetec in a durable, Class I clear anodize.  Linetec’s no-VOC, eco-friendly anodize produces a frosty, matte finish that helps hide small imperfections sometimes seen in recycled aluminum.  These qualities have helped Linetec’s anodize earn a Declare Label as Living Building Challenge™ Red List Free, which is recognized by LEED and other sustainable building programs.

         With its suite of sustainable, renewable, and energy-efficient features, Fire Station 14 is estimated to contribute to a carbon emission reduction of nearly 902,000 lbs. of carbon per year.  In addition to this significant accomplishment, the project has been honored with numerous awards.  These include design awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Western Mountain Region and AIA Utah, and the Green Building Award from the Associated General Contractors Utah, among many others.

         “We are honored to receive this national recognition,” said fire chief Karl Lieb.  “Salt Lake City’s Fire Department takes our responsibility to protect the community seriously.  This is what we do every day in responding to incidents and emergencies, and it’s what we’re doing at a systems level in how we construct and manage buildings, source renewable energy, and support cleaner-fueled vehicles.”

         “Salt Lake City is committed to building green, and these are prime opportunities for us to show that commitment,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall.  “Particularly with Station No. 14 being on our city’s West side, which has historically endured worse air quality than the rest of the city, we felt it was important that we get this right.  I’m grateful to Chief Lieb for his vision and creativity in making this happen.  These certifications are a tremendous accomplishment.”

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