Civic green

Metro's fire stations, police precincts incorporate sustainable features

The history of Nashville's fire halls and police precincts can be defined by three eras.

The first era, which ran through the 1950s, saw the buildings defined by their modest size and handsome exteriors befitting of civic structures from a time when the public realm was respected and honored.

During the second era, which spanned the second of the 20th century, Metro Government commissioned the design and construction of utilitarian — with great emphasis on vehicle functionality — fire stations and police precincts that were, not surprisingly, bland and nondescript.

With the arrival of the 21st century, Metro began to stress more distinctive exterior designs and interior that are environmentally sound. Since 2008, the city has mandated (and the Metro Department of General Services sometimes oversees) that the new buildings attempt to be LEED-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. The result has been some buildings that, while not as grand as, say, the Holly Street Fire Hall, are much more attractive than their modernist predecessors and vastly more "green."

Some of the sustainable features of Metro fire stations and police precincts built today include the following:

• Solar-ready roof construction
• Fully operational solar installation
• Automatic plumbing (faucets and toilets)
• Energy Star appliances
• Irrigation system in the landscaping
• Bio-retention pond to catch rainwater run-off
• Energy-efficient light fixtures

The business of fighting fires and crime is a dirty one. At least Metro is trying to make it as green as possible.