The City of Bowie Parks and Grounds Maintenance facility was dedicated in the spring of 2008.  It was the Maryland city’s first Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certified building. The facility consists of two approximately 8,000 square foot buildings built on 2.5 acres. The main building consists of administration and equipment repair. The second building is used for vehicles, equipment, and hard-goods storage. The facility is a demonstration project for “Green Building Design” and cost $2.4 million to build; a portion of the funding was secured through grants from the Maryland Energy Administration and the Department of Natural Resources.

The facility supports a Parks Division that is responsible for maintaining more than 1,100 acres of parkland, eight playgrounds, 10 ball field complexes that consist of 65 fields, one skate park, and one dog park. The park staff consists of 39 full-time employees and a FY13 operating budget of $2.9 million.

The LEED facility has 35 green building practices incorporated into its design from ground source heating to green roofs planted with perennials (sedum cultivars). After 5 years, the facility has performed remarkably well considering many of these practices were new in the building trades at the time and untested in our region.

A few of the unique green components are straw-bale construction used as an insulator, and the rainwater collection system that is heated by solar panels that we use to wash equipment. The original purpose and design for these buildings were to provide for a safe, secure and efficient work facility and adding the green building techniques has not only saved valuable resources over the last five years but has had a very positive effect on how our division performs its daily work assignments.

It is not an easy comparison to gauge what the overall savings of a building with green components compared to traditional construction as the facility we came from was considerably smaller, although the utilities are significantly less for a facility of this size. The buildings are a demonstration project, and we give tours to any interested party. One of the questions that is usually asked is, “What green practices work the best?” We have found that the ground source heating system, the photovoltaic panels, sun tunnels and the rainwater reuse system work the best.

In the past 5 years, this facility has experienced two blizzards, a hurricane, two tropical storms, a derecho (a widespread, long-lived, straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms), an earthquake, and a direct lightning strike to the building. The Parks and Grounds Maintenance Facility provides our division with a first-rate platform to work from under normal conditions and in times of emergencies that should last many years to come.

Ed Hall is parks supervisor for the City of Bowie, MD Parks and Recreation Department.

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