Georgia Detention Facility Awarded LEED Certification

DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. — The new Douglas County Adult Detention and Law Enforcement Center has recently earned LEED certification. Gary Retel at HOK Architects of Atlanta presented the honor to Douglas County Sheriff Phil Miller earlier this fall.

The nearly 500,000-square-foot correctional facility implemented a variety of sustainable strategies, including sun shading, rainwater reclamation and green and recycled building materials. According to Retel, working with the landscape also allowed for significant energy reductions. "By orienting the building on the East/West axis, light is ‘borrowed’…through glazing in the dayrooms and outdoor recreation yards. The majority of the windows are on the north and south facades with additional awnings for shade on the south facing windows." This innovative design provides an 18 percent energy reduction compared to standard code, and will save taxpayers upwards of $200,000 annually.

Further greening efforts included diverting 98 percent of construction waste out of landfills, reducing water use by roughly 31 percent and constructing the building on a previously developed lot alongside the county courthouse. This move in particular saved money by making the facilities more accessible to each other, and earned added points during the certification review.

The Douglas County Adult Detention and Law Enforcement Center is one of the first facilities in the region to earn LEED certification. It’s also the first large-scale, new construction adult detention facility to be awarded the honor. “This is an outstanding accomplishment because we took the appropriate measures to make sure this building was energy efficient and environmentally friendly,” said Douglas County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Stan Copeland. “It should serve as a national model for detention facilities.”

In addition to its green efforts, the building was also intentionally designed to look less like a correctional facility and more like an office building, which will work to reduce prison stigma. The innovative design is fence-free and all outdoor areas, including a recreation yard, are contained within the building’s perimeter.

The facility itself houses 1,500 beds in two-person cells, which arrived pre-fabricated to hasten construction. The facility averages 750 inmates per day, and according to Copeland operates much like a small city. “We use energy for water, gas and electricity, and if I can reduce it significantly over the life of the structure, think of the savings to taxpayers.”

Michael Katzin, who managed the project for HOK in Atlanta, was also happy with the sustainable outcome of the design. “Though the project was not initiated with a LEED requirement, we are extremely pleased that we were able to collaborate with Douglas County to implement a strong, long-term sustainability approach,” said Katzin.

HOK Justice Group has considerable experience in justice facility construction, having completed more than 40 million square feet of correctional space. Retel was the lead designer on the Douglas County project, and maintains largely the same philosophy throughout all green building endeavors. “We always want to create a pleasant environment for the staff, support highly efficient operations, reduce life-cycle costs, optimize the budget and contribute to the creation of a sustainable community,” he said.

The new Douglas County facility was funded by a Local Option Sales Tax in 2009. Turner/New South Construction began construction on the facility in October 2010, and the building began accepting inmates in December 2012. LEED certification was approved in September 2013.