Glynn County Jail’s Design Addresses Sustainability

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The new Glynn County Sheriff’s Office and Jail is located just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean in the port city of Brunswick. The complex’s September 2014 opening marked the culmination of several years of collaboration among county officials, sheriff’s staff, the architect and the general contractor. Designed to meet the sheriff department‘s increasing space needs, the new 126,743-square-foot, $20.6 million facility can now house up to 612 inmates.
The complex was constructed using durable components and state-of-the-art, energy-efficient systems designed to save the county millions of dollars throughout the facility’s lifetime. It includes the sheriff’s administrative building, a support building, two inmate housing pods and one inmate dormitory. The sheriff’s administrative building provides offices and training areas for staff, while the support building houses the intake, visitation, food service, laundry and medical exam areas, as well as 12 single-bed cells for medical and/or administrative isolation.
Energy efficiency and durability were primary considerations for the complex’s HVAC system. The facilities are served by two magnetic bearing chillers, which a comfortable, climate-controlled environment. Designed to be up to 40 percent more efficient than standard centrifugal chillers, the county can save up to $4 million throughout the life of each chiller.
Due to the corrosive nature of the coastal air, a ceramic cooling tower was also used. The ceramic components do not rust and last much longer than a standard galvanized or stainless steel cooling tower.
A web-based, direct digital control (DDC) system controls both the lighting and HVAC and can be controlled from any computer on the system. When run times and set points are adjusted to coincide with building occupancy, energy savings are achieved.
With twin 600-kilowatt generator sets, the complex is self-sufficient and can withstand power outages resulting from potential coastal storm–related events. Each generator has a double-wall, skid-mounted tank with an integral leak detection system and contains enough fuel for 48 hours of operation. Critical emergency power can be distributed to the life safety systems within the living units, and both normal and emergency power are provided to the central plant to facilitate potable water, heating and cooling. Emergency power can also be provided to key components of the building, including the fire pump, cooling tower and sewage grinder.
A building-wide energy management system using a time-of-day schedule and override options controls the complex’s lighting. The architect provided skylights in the inmate housing units, reducing lighting requirements to half-brightness during daylight hours. The exterior of the building was also fitted with LED lights for cost savings through extended lamp life, and a lightning protection system was implemented to mitigate the effect of lightning. A system of surge protective devices was provided on the electrical distribution system to further minimize the effects of lightning and other voltage transients on the incoming utility power.
The complex’s plumbing systems include high-efficiency institutional toilets and/or fixtures and condensing-type water heaters, which operate at a minimum of 97 percent efficiency. Low-flow water closets and showers meeting the latest standards were installed throughout the facility and should provide savings to the county as well.

Malinda Taylor has worked as a marketing director for architectural firms for more than 16 years. She is currently the marketing director for Studio 8 Design in Valdosta, Ga. Jim Ingram, AIA, NCARB, is a registered architect and has more than 45 years of experience in the design of correctional facilities. He has owned and managed several successful architectural firms and is the senior managing member of Studio 8 Design in Valdosta, Ga.