New shop building in Forks aims high for low energy use

It was a major setback for DNR’s Olympic Region when its 44-year-old maintenance shop and warehouse in Forks burned to the ground on Jan. 2, 2013. Now, in its place, stands a 7,000-square-foot building that is more than just a shiny new structure: the new facility was designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification standards for energy conservation.

Built primarily with locally sourced or purchased materials, the new workshop for DNR’s Olympic Region headquarters in Forks boasts greater energy efficiency and increased comfort for workers. Photo: Lawhead Architects PS

Between the 2013 fire of undetermined origin and the fall 2016 dedication of the replacement facility, DNR region staff scrambled to make do. Trailers and storage units were rented while conference rooms and other parts of its headquarters building in Forks were pressed into service as temporary work and storage areas. To service and repair the fleet of trucks, fire engines and other heavy equipment used across the region’s vast area, employees had to travel 30 miles to a temporary auto shop housed at the Olympic Correctional Camp.

The new building features:

  • Advanced heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems that bring fresh air in and exhaust stale air without allowing inside heat to escape
  • Locally manufactured or distributed building products
  • Recycled insulation in walls, roof and concrete slab
  • LED lighting and room vacancy lighting control sensors
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures

Structures that meet the LEED Silver standard are on average 25 to 30 percent more energy efficient than similar structures, but cutting power bills isn’t the only benefit of following the standards. An engineering study in 2003 found that workers in LEED-certified buildings reported increased productivity from the better ventilation, temperature control, lighting control and reduced indoor air pollution.

The certification process is still pending for DNR’s new shop, but the benefits of a more energy efficient, better designed and more comfortable workspace are already accruing to the DNR Olympic Region and its employees.

DNR’s Olympic Region includes the counties of Clallam and Jefferson, and the northwest portion of Grays Harbor County. The region’s area includes 371,000 acres of state forest, agriculture and conservation lands, including the Olympic Experimental State Forest.

The LEED rating system was created by the United States Green Building Council to evaluate the environmental performance of buildings.