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My Sustainable Day-Cation in Mississauga Day 3: Fire Fighting Goes green

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I have written about Fire Stations before, and with good reason. They’re in every single municipality, they’re occupied more than normal municipal buildings, and they have the potential to incorporate significant water, energy and money saving design features.

In Mississauga, the City has taken the idea of a more sustainable Fire Services building one step further with the construction of the Garry W. Morden Centre. The massive complex is constructed to LEED Silver standards, and incorporates some impressive energy saving features. And it accomplishes all of this while firmly establishing itself as a state-of-the-art fire training facility, which makes it all the more exciting.

The Smoke Tower at the Garry W. Morden Centre. Note where the flag is on the top right hand side. That’s where I’m about to head to!

Upon arrival to the Centre, the first thing I notice is the abundant natural vegetation that surrounds the parking lot. The whole area is xeroscaped, requiring minimal watering and maintenance. When I walk through the front doors, the massive main hall of the building is lit almost exclusively by natural sunlight flowing in through the buildings large skylights. Despite the large amounts of sun coming in, the facility is still surprisingly cool on such a hot summer day, all thanks to a high efficiency cooling tower on the roof and heat pumps throughout the building. Because of these features, the room temperatures can be modified depending on the use and the amount of people in the room, ensuring occupant comfort throughout the facility.

The atrium at the Garry W. Morden Centre. Like much of the building, the majority of the light comes from the sun.

As we move through the facility to the truck bays, I again notice the abundance of natural light, minimizing the need to have high-powered lights on all the time. While firefighters go about the washing and maintenance of the trucks, I’m informed that the water used to wash them comes from a stormwater retention system, which is then stored in a large cistern and re-used in order to minimize the demand for treated water in the facility. In addition to utilizing stormwater to wash the trucks, the Centre also features a grey water system, which harvests water from the roof of the building and stores it for use in the facility’s toilets. It’s impressive to see the fleet of fire trucks lined up, well shined and pristine, and it’s great to know that keeping them in such great shape isn’t taking a significant toll on the environment.

A vintage pumper in the well-lit maintenance bay of the Garry W. Morden Centre.

The coup de gras of my tour of the facility definitely comes at the end, when I’m taken up to the very top of the building used to train fire fighters in search and rescue operations. A tall structure made up of floors with slidable walls, it allows for a different configuration every time the fire fighters enter it, always keeping it varied for training purposes. From the very top, I am rewarded with a fantastic view of the entire facility, from the road track where fire and police services train to the propane tank area where fire fighters train and some Hollywood explosions are filmed to the stormwater retention pond. It’s a great vista, and an experience that reminds me exactly why I love my job so much.

From the top of the Smoke Tower, I can see the reflective roof of the Garry W. Morden Centre. Apparently there’s talk of installing solar panels up there in the future.

From high atop the Smoke Tower, I can see the vehicle training grounds, the water retention pond, and an awful lot of Mississauga. It’s a heck of a view!

As I descend the tower, I talk with the fire fighter who led me up to the top, and I’m struck by the sense of extreme pride that all the people I have talked to at this facility have. They’re proud of the environmental achievements of the facility, to be sure, but having a green facility means nothing if it doesn’t perform to the standards expected of it. And from all of my conversations, I can assure you that the Garry W. Morden Centre is performing above and beyond what is expected. It is a world class facility that prepares emergency crews in Mississauga for any situation, and it reduces the strain placed on the natural environment while doing so. It’s a great example of just how effective green buildings can be, and it was an inspirational part of my trip. How could I possibly top this? How about with a trip to a park? But not just any park, an award winning park! One that incorporates all sorts of innovative, sustainable and beautiful design features!

Have I piqued your interest yet? Tune in tomorrow to read more!

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2 Comments on “My Sustainable Day-Cation in Mississauga Day 3: Fire Fighting Goes green”

  1. misslgblog October 31, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    Reblogged this on mississaugalivinggreen and commented:
    Check this out: My Sustainable Day-Cation in Mississauga Day 3: Fire Fighting Goes green

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. My Sustainable Day-Cation in Mississauga, Day 4: O’Connor Park | mississaugalivinggreen - November 8, 2012

    […] Reblogged from Clean Air Partnership […]

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