Nation's Greenest Prison Meets the LEED-Gold Standard

CONNELL, WA — The greenest prison in the United States reduces water consumption by a whopping 5.5 million gallons and saves its operators about $370,000 in energy costs each year. It also has a solar array that covers 16,929 square feet and relies heavily on natural light to illuminate occupied space.

Those attributes helped the Washington State Department of Corrections earn LEED-Gold certification for the 21-building, medium-security Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell, the first prison to receive such recognition from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Coyote Ridge's LEED-Gold plaque
The department and other corrections agencies have buildings that have been certified to USGBC standards for  Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, but so far only Washington State has obtained certification for an entire facility. Certification was awarded in October and corrections officials, who recently received their LEED plaque, celebrated this week by installing the emblem at Coyote Ridge.

The facility is one of 15 in the Washington State corrections system, which has the most LEED-certified buildings of any criminal justice agency in the U.S.aerial

Including the green endorsement for Coyote Ridge, the department has received 12 LEED-Silver and 22 LEED-Gold certifications.

The $230-million, 2,048-bed medium-custody expansion project at Coyote Ridge, which is adjacent to a minimum security facility, began in June 2006 and was completed in October 2008.

The site includes a 100-bed segregation unit and eight "twin pod" 256-bed units of inmate housing as well as medical and mental health facilities; space for inmate programs, industries, food service and administration;  a softball diamond and a soccer field.

CRCC exterior"Viewed from the outside, CRCC is an intimidating and secure medium-security prison," the corrections department acknowledges in a fact sheet for the green building project.

Tall fences topped with coils of razor wire encircle the site. But a closer look reveals a series of long thin windows on building envelopes and designs that are considered state of the art for security and resource efficiency in correctional units.

Next Page: Water and energy conservation at the country's greenest prison.