A turn-of-the-century fire station once stood at the corner of California and Santa Clara streets, a few blocks from our offices in Ventura. The Firehouse, which we use for office and meeting space, is a unique reincarnation of that building. In constructing this new model, we stayed as true to the original as possible, with necessary bows to function, cost, modern aesthetic sensibilities, and most importantly, environmental considerations.
We succeeded in recycling almost 100% of the waste generated during the construction process. Materials included metal, paper, wire, concrete, etc. Del Norte Recycling Center (in Oxnard) and EJ Harrison (in Ventura) recycled all of the materials they received from us. Our contractor, Hartigan/Foley, hired a person whose sole responsibility was the separation and transportation of waste to the recycling center. None of the building materials ended up in a landfill.
Perhaps the ultimate in environmental effort involved the structure that occupied the site where the Firehouse now stands. It was carefully dismantled, shipped and then reconstructed in its entirety on the Oglala-Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Usually, demolished buildings end up as waste in a landfill.
All steel framework used in the Firehouse has a minimum of 98.5% recycled content. Steel studs have a minimum of 50% recycled steel content.
Ninety percent of the wood used in the building is "reclaimed." This means it comes from forest-fire downfall, old barns and bridges, etc.
The walls are filled with blown-in, 100% recycled and ground-up newspaper. This insulation has a higher "R" value (the measure of a material's resistance to heat flow) than standard insulation and is 22% more efficient. The insulative material that was not blown in—but rather laid out in rolls—is certified to be 25% recycled glass with no formaldehyde content. Conventional insulation is fiberglass that is held together by formaldehyde.
Roof tiles were recycled from a building in nearby Oxnard, CA. Shower tiles are 70% recycled glass.
The Firehouse is now on its second carpet, this one called Eco*Solution Q® from Shaw Fibers. It contains a minimum of 25% post industrial/ consumer fibers and is fully recyclable back into carpet fiber. The Firehouse's old carpet was sent to Dupont to be recycled into automotive parts.
The floors in the bathrooms and food preparation area are Marmoleum: made of linseed oil, cork, wood and limestone (all natural products) with no toxins. It has a jute backing.
We used state-of-the-art, laminated double-paned, and coated windows that are 72% more efficient than regular double-paned windows and 14% more efficient than triple-paned. They're called low "E" windows (radiant heat reflects back to its source, so the rooms stay cooler in summer and warmer in winter). The window frames are made of Fibrex, a wood composite made of reclaimed wood fibers and a special thermoplastic polymer.
We placed motion sensors throughout the building to reduce energy use. If they don't sense any movement during a set amount of time, the lights go off automatically (and on again should someone enter the room).
Heating and Cooling
The Firehouse is extremely well insulated, so the need to use the heating and cooling system is greatly reduced. Insulative material also deadens outside traffic/freeway noise. The building is designed to allow for as much natural cross-ventilation as possible.
We installed low-flow shower heads and toilets to reduce water use. Conventional toilets use an average of 3 to 4 gallons per flush, while low-flow toilets use only 1.5 gallons per flush.