Reduce, reuse, recycle
Green practices are encouraged throughout Washington state, but especially in King County. So, when the county renovated its Shoreline Recycling and Transfer Station, green building practices were a prominent part of the design.
The new building includes materials that would otherwise wind up in landfills. Discarded sheet metal scraps were incorporated into the station’s walls. Fly ash, a byproduct of coal combustion, was used as a free cement substitute, saving the county $4,000 and reducing the carbon dioxide produced during construction. Carpet and resilient flooring made from recycled material were used in office areas. King County also incorporated renewable resources in the design, including wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and Biofiber cabinets and paneling made from wheat straw.
Renewable energy and natural lighting contribute to the facility’s sustainability. Even on cloudy days, photovoltaic panels on the roof can produce 15 kilowatts of electricity, which is enough to offset 5 percent of the building’s energy needs. Translucent panels used in sections of the walls and roof allow daylight to stream onto the main tipping floor. Tubular skylights also reduce the need for electric light. The light sources are expected to reduce lighting energy costs by 50 percent, a savings of $14,000 a year.
Rainwater collected from the roof is funneled through a system of gutters and pipes to a retaining tank. From there, the water is pumped throughout the facility, where it is used to wash floors and equipment, and flush toilets. Using rainwater for those tasks increases the amount of available drinking water by 57 percent and is expected to save $7,500 annually over a 50-years. Outside, bioswales — landscape elements designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water — were installed to slow water flow and reduce stream bank erosion along nearby salmon habitat Thornton Creek.
The Shoreline facility opened in February, and it received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certification last month. LEED is a national rating system for high-performance, sustainable building developed by the Washington-based U.S. Green Building Council. “We plan to use the Shoreline facility as a model for eventual replacement of all our King County transfer stations,” says Kevin Kiernan, director of the King County Solid Waste Division.
— Heather Larson is a freelance writer based in Federal Way, Wash. This article first appeared in the May 2008 edition of Waste Age, American City & County’s sister publication.
Recycling and transfer station renovation
King County, Wash.
Solid Waste Division