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A detox facility goes green

April 1, 2009
by Shandi Matambanadzo, Associate Editor
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The building has been recognized for its environmentally friendly features

The boulder county addiction recovery center

The Boulder County Addiction Recovery Center. Photographer: Alan Watkins
Boulder, Colorado, is known for being environmentally friendly, having been dubbed one of the world's top-ten greener cities by Urban Land Green magazine and one of the Best Green Cities in America by Country Home magazine. So perhaps it's no surprise that Boulder County's new detox facility earned the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED New Construction Gold Certification last September (LEED is a national green building industry standard).

The 11,825-sq.-ft. Boulder County Addiction Recovery Center (ARC) opened in September 2007. The 30-bed, $3.9 million detox facility, offering acute and long-term treatment, is built to fit into an existing hillside. Seventy-five percent of the building, designed by five LEED-certified county architects, uses recycled materials harvested and manufactured within 500 miles of the ARC, and 50% of its wood was Forest Stewardship Council certified (FSC encourages responsible forest management). Adhesives, sealants, paints, flooring, and wood products have low levels of volatile organic compounds. During construction, an indoor air quality management plan reduced harmful gases, dust, and other irritants.

To reduce its carbon footprint, ARC contracts with a wind power supplier, but the facility has 270 photovoltaic solar collectors to provide 40 to100% of its electricity needs. Further reducing its electrical demand, the building has windows in 90% of its spaces as well as occupancy and lighting sensors throughout. ARC also has a high-efficiency boiler. Architectural Energy Corporation assisted with energy modeling as well as the LEED submission.

Water-efficient landscaping, including native grasses, surround the building. Inside low-flow and dual-flush plumbing fixtures with sensor flow switches reduce water use by 40%.

Also, the facility is accessible by bus and has dedicated car-pool parking spaces along with bike racks and a shower for staff.

Alan Watkins, a Boulder County project architect, says ARC demonstrates that green facilities can be built within a county budget's constraints. The building's LEED certification has encouraged Boulder County to pursue environmentally friendly design for future projects.

“My advice to other entities is to find a champion within the organization, do your research, and engage a LEED-accredited professional within your design team,” notes Watkins.

Behavioral Healthcare 2009 April;29(4):31