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Sustainability & Environmental Performance

The Washington State Department of Corrections has earned a national reputation for its efforts to make both its operations and facilities more sustainable. Sustainable design and practices allow for a wiser use of taxpayer dollars. By being innovative and forming unique partnerships the department has reduced its impact on the environment, made its operations more efficient and assisted with wildlife restoration. Additionally, energy efficiency efforts gain further compliance with Governor Inslee’s Executive Order 18-01Adobe PDF document file.

Sustainable Building

Sustainable, or green, building refers to practices in design, construction, and deconstruction that significantly reduce effects upon the environment and building occupants in five main areas: sustainable site planning, conservation of materials and resources, energy efficiency and renewable energy, water conservation, and indoor air quality. Green building is a major factor in creating sustainable communities and cities. Washington State recognizes the US Green Building Council Standards for green building through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.

In 2004, the Washington Department of Corrections committed to pursue LEED Certification on all new construction and renovation projects and seeks LEED Silver Certification at minimum, LEED Gold where technically and fiscally feasible. During the 2005 legislative session, the State Legislature passed a new law requiring LEED Silver standards for state-funded building projects. The Department now has completed 32 LEED buildings.

Individual Facilities

Airway Heights Corrections Center

With the October 23, 2018 opening of the Avista solar farm in Lind, Wash., Airway Heights Corrections Center was provided with the opportunity to purchase up to 1.2 million kWh of clean renewable solar generated electricity for the facility.

North Close Custody Expansion, Washington State Penitentiary, LEED Silver Certified

Seven buildings in the north close custody expansion achieved LEED Silver certification: an administration building, a core services building, an intensive management / segregation unit and four close custody housing units. The project represented the system’s biggest LEED project to date. The buildings were made with recycled content, regional, and low emitting materials. A variety of water saving fixtures were used, along with energy saving conditioning systems. Ninety-five percent of all construction waste was recycled through the Correctional Industries recycling program.

Penitentiary Warehouse, Walla Walla, WA - LEED Silver Certified

Innovative LEED features of the 39,000 square foot warehouse include a high mass building envelope, natural ventilation and no mechanical systems for cooling in the general storage areas, skylights for natural daylighting, a reflective white roof to reduce heat gain, exterior window light shelves that bounce light into the office spaces, and a ground-source heat pump that uses a series of geothermal coils to cool or heat the office spaces and provide hot water.

The Jimmie Evans Training Center, Monroe, WA - LEED Gold Certified

The 10,000 square foot building provides space for training, general education classrooms, a computer training lab, defensive tactics area, and offices. Green building elements include rainwater capture for flushing toilets, waterless urinals, low flow lavatories, construction waste recycling, recycled content and local building materials. The Jimmie Evans Training Center was the first correctional building in the nation to achieve the LEED Gold rating.

Intensive Management/Segregation Unit, Monroe, WA - LEED Silver Certified

The building, which was the agency’s first LEED certified building to house inmates, was made with recycled-content concrete, steel, and other locally produced materials. Rainwater is collected and used to flush toilets. Cell windows were redesigned from the original plan to allow for more daylight. Ultra-high efficiency air filters are used in the ventilation systems. A high-reflective roofing membrane was used for the entire roof area.

Maintenance Building, Monroe, WA - LEED Silver Certified

Built on the site of a dilapidated barn, an old wall of ecology blocks was preserved and used as a retaining wall for the new building. Rock and concrete from the old barn was crushed and used for the parking lot and road base, and old bollards and all shop cabinetry were reused. Natural lighting was enhanced by adding a row of windows in the roll-up doors and skylights in the high bays. Propane is used for heating, as opposed to electric heat, and the same tank was also fitted as a refueling station for the numerous propane vehicles at the complex. Previously, all vehicles were filled by an outside vendor truck or taken down the street for refueling. Fifty percent of the baseline electrical load has been supplemented by "green tags" for two years to comply with the "green power" requirement for LEED.

Correctional Industries Showroom & Warehouse, Tumwater, WA - LEED Silver Certified

Green features of the Correctional Industries showroom and warehouse building include managing all storm water on site, water efficient landscaping, and reflective materials to reduce roof and non-roof heat island effects. Low-emitting adhesives, paints, carpets, and fiber board were used in construction, as well as recycled content products, and certified wood. The building is using green power and alternative fuel vehicles. There are views for 90 percent of spaces.

Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, Connell, WA - LEED Gold Certified

The Coyote Ridge Corrections Center is one of the first correctional centers of its size to apply these sustainable development standards in design and the first to achieve a LEED® Gold certification.

The U.S. Green Building Council prescribes an approach to evaluating the performance of building design and compares them against the industry accepted energy efficient standards. The rating system has provided designers the opportunity to objectively demonstrate the performance of their sustainable design efforts.

By attaining the standard, the facility has achieved the following benchmarks in efficiency:

  • 32% reduction in energy use
  • 32% reduction in water use
  • 96% of construction waste recycled or reused
  • 46% of the materials in this facility were constructed from recycled material
  • 45% of the building materials were fabricated locally

Indoor Air Quality

Incarcerated individuals spend much of their time indoors and with the high population density of the facility, indoor environmental quality is very important. By selecting building materials that produce fewer volatile organic compounds and are formaldehyde-free, the design ensured that the materials used in construction do not compromise the indoor environment. Smoke-free policies and green housekeeping strategies also assure that steps have been taken to keep the environment healthy.

Awards and Recognition

LEED™ — Gold Prison Campus

Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Franklin County became the first prison in the world to have its entire campus designated LEED™ — certified Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Washington Correctional Association

The 2010 Education Award went to Evergreen Professor Nalini Nadkarni for her work with the Sustainability in Prisons Project.

Harvard University Innovation Award

Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government designated the project as “Bright Idea” to be shared with the public sector, nonprofits and universities. The program is administered by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

Contact Department Liaison

Share your ideas and ask us questions by contacting us at:

Julie Vanneste , Sustainable Operations Manager
Washington State Department of Corrections
P.O. Box 41112
Olympia, Washington 98504-1112
(360) 725-8396

Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP)

Sustainability in Prisons Project logo which is light green text with a black frog

The Sustainability in Prisons Project is a partnership of the Washington State Department of Corrections and The Evergreen State College. Our mission is to bring science and nature into prisons. We conduct ecological research and conserve biodiversity by forging collaborations with scientists, offenders, prison staff, students and community partners. Equally important, we help reduce the environmental, economic and human costs of prisons by inspiring and informing sustainable practices.