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LEEDing the Way: Buncombe Starts Construction on State-of-the-Art General Services Complex

A new era in Buncombe County is here. On Oct. 19, there was a groundbreaking for the new General Service’s Complex, the first new construction that will aim to save money and meet high-performance efficiency goals under a resolution that all new construction more than 10,000 square feet meet a minimum of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards. And today Commission Vice Chair, County staff, and more were on hand to witness the beginning of construction that will help the County meet its goal of reducing carbon emissions and having 100% renewable energy for internal operations by 2030.

“This project is significant for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is being able to more effectively serve Buncombe County. And while we could have just built your typical garage-type facility, we’re seizing the opportunity to build a multi-faceted facility that is energy efficient, takes advantage of solar energy production, reduces greenhouse gases, and can serve as a headquarters for County operations in the case of a major emergency,” says Commission Chair Brownie Newman. “In our Strategic Plan, we focus on environmental and energy stewardship along with operational excellence – this new building speaks to those goals.”

The nearly 25,000 square-foot complex will be strategically located adjacent to the Public Safety Training Center in Woodfin. County Manager Avril Pinder says General Services is a vital department for County infrastructure. “This is the department that maintains all County buildings including the courthouse, jail, and park facilities. They are the landscaping and grounds staff, the vehicle maintenance and repair technicians, the snow removal team, and that list is not exhaustive,” explains Avril. “This new building will bring all those disparate trades, equipment, and personnel into one location and provide better synergy and collaboration.” She also notes that the building General Services is leaving behind will be well utilized. “Most exciting is the opportunity to redesign and repurpose the vacated building into an emergency and public safety location to serve the growing demand downtown,” says Avril.

The new complex will not only have state-of-the-art performance efficiencies, it will also be a key asset in the County’s facility portfolio. Director of General Services Mike Mace says its functionality will be extremely important: “The facility design incorporates a backup energy source that allows us to operate in the worst of times, like during a natural disaster. Ambulances, Sheriff’s vehicles, and other important equipment can be maintained and operate out of the new facility to provide the community access to emergency response and police protection.” Mike also notes that the new complex will finally centralize the staff and equipment from three different General Service locations.

On the environmental side, this complex will help set the standard for future County construction. Sustainability Officer Jeremiah Leroy says it will utilize some best practices and cutting-edge technology. “It will incorporate decarbonization of facilities into its construction processes and provide some valuable lessons for future development,” he explains, adding that there’s intentionality behind keeping future operating costs at a minimum. “Facilities are long-term investments, and we should be thinking long term when designing and constructing them. With this facility, we estimate approximately $1.4 million in electricity cost savings from solar alone. A fully electrified building means we don’t have to rely on fossil fuel generation and aren’t subjected to fluctuations in gas pricing. On-site energy generation also protects the County from escalating electricity costs over time.”

The new General Services Complex is expected to be operating by late summer 2024, for more information about the building see below.

  • 21,471 base square feet with a 3,051 square foot mezzanine making a total of 24,522 square feet total
  • Ten garage bays
  • Four individual mobile lifts for operational flexibility
  • Mobile electric vehicle charger for diagnostics
  • 220 KWDC/160KWAC rooftop solar photovoltaic system
  • Full electric building with high-efficiency HVAC systems
  • Four fixed electric vehicle charging stations
  • Whole-building generator capable of powering the entire building and all systems
  • Constructed to LEED equivalency standards
  • 5,200 square feet of detached covered storage for large equipment

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Updated Oct 31, 2023 05:00 PM
Published Oct 19, 2023 01:00 PM

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