Top 10 cool facts about the Coast Guard’s new LEED Gold Building in Cleveland

Post written by Lt. Davey Connor

The Coast Guard cut the ribbon on a new 25,000 square foot operations, administrative and crew berthing building housing Marine Safety Unit Cleveland, Coast Guard Station Cleveland Harbor, and an Electronic Support Detachment. In addition to providing a much needed update to living and working spaces, this building is certified to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Standard.

 What’s that mean? Here are ten cool facts about the benefits and savings of striving for this environmentally friendly standard.


LEED certification begins long before the ceremonial spade first breaks soil. Engineers certify the entire lifecycle of a building, from conception to planning to development. Environmental stewardship doesn’t end when the ribbon is cut, however, so LEED standards carry into the operation of the building, too. Click her for more information about LEED.


 The new roof is more than just a pretty lawn. A vegetative roof decreases the need for air conditioning, extends the life of the roof, reduces erosive rainwater runoff, and provides some green relief from the concrete and asphalt patchwork of waterfront. The rest of the roof is painted white to reflect more sunlight, which lowers cooling costs in the summer.
A green roof is good for more than just the building it’s on. Reducing air conditioning needs also reduces peak electric power demand, which can prevent power outages. Lowered electricity demands also means that less carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, and mercury are released into the atmosphere by power plants. Even cooler, the greenery topped Coast Guard building will help lower local air temperatures, improving air quality and slowing smog formation.


This building is designed to save even more energy than set forth in the LEED Guiding Principles for Sustainable New Construction and Major Revisions. Our design cuts energy consumption and expenditure up to 30% below the baseline standards set by American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. With new technology, we can accomplish this even with the lights on at night to spruce up the waterfront.


The Coast Guard has acquired dozens of new responsibilities in its 222 year history, from environmental protection to homeland defense, and the dynamic challenges of tomorrow require us to live our motto of “Semper Paratus,” “always ready.” The interior spaces of this building are easily adaptable to the changing needs of the service, which will make it a vital asset for decades to come and minimize the needs for new construction.


Buildings built to LEED standards should save money in the long-term by reducing energy costs but this building was built approximately $4.5 million under budget. The savings were immediately channeled to include a boat maintenance facility that will protect Station Cleveland’s boats through the harsh Great Lakes winter and provide a safe location for crews to work on the boats. The new boathouse will include engineering, shop and storage facilities for Station Cleveland Harbor and USCG Cutter NEAH BAY.


Sustainable construction is more than thoughtful floor plans and twisty light bulbs. The new building maximizes use of locally produced furniture and finishes made from recycled, recyclable, and reusable materials while minimizing use of polyvinyl chloride, a popular plastic that takes a long time to biodegrade. Also, all wood products included in permanently installed architectural or interior materials come from sources certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.


Clevelanders cherish sunshine, probably because we only get an average of 66 days of it per year. This new building incorporates high-efficiency windows that reduce conductive energy loss while allowing natural light to flood the facility. Not only does this brighten the day of our Coast Guard members, it decreases the need for electrical light.


The proximity of Lake Erie serves as a daily reminder that fresh water is a precious natural resource. This building is designed to save every drop possible. Toilets and urinals are either waterless or low flow. Natural landscaping is designed to thrive without irrigation from the city’s water supply. A state-of-the-art a gray water recycling system catches the drains of sinks and showers throughout the building and repurposes it to flush the toilet and water the plants.


Saving energy happens at the micro level: turning the lights off when you leave a room, and at the macro level: monitoring 24 hour energy expenditures throughout the building. This building is designed for both: lights are linked to motion sensors and the entire electrical system is linked to an external database. This remote metering allows engineers to identify anomalies in building energy use and coordinate best practices to minimize energy waste.


The 10th cool fact was waived in order to save electricity and manpower.


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