Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It's not easy being green... unless you're incarcerated

Here's a different take on Going Green. Guest blogger, Jane Smith, is a freelance writer with a special interest in personal, criminal and professional records, heads to prison... well, at least her research takes her there... and she lets us know which correctional facilities are worthy of being named in the Top 3 in Washington state when it comes to sustainability. Why is this important to know? Well, I thought it might help you decide in which state you want to commit your next crime (Washington's looking good). Or, maybe it's just nice to know that sustainability is being practiced even behind bars. Hey, the prisoners may not understand that murder is a crime, but at least they know the importance of recycling.

Photo by Zaid Hamid for Wikipedia

Even Prisons Go-Green
3 Top Sustainable Correctional Facilities 
in Washington State

Every year, hundreds of eco-conscious residents and employers pay thousands of dollars to ensure that their homes and office buildings are eco-friendly and meet LEED certification standards. While these individuals have the resources to live a greener lifestyle, some individuals with not-so-pristine background checks don't have the same opportunities (or freedom) to make the same green initiatives. We're talking about prisoners. They don't have access to the same sustainable resources or materials that non-prisoners do. However, thanks to new green construction ordinances popping up around the country, some of our tax dollars are now helping correctional facilities make initiatives to become "green" and save money.  In fact, Washington has already mandated a law that states all new correctional institutions must be environmentally friendly. That said, continue reading to learn about a few green prisons in the Washington state area.

Monroe Correctional Complex

The Monroe Correctional Complex is the state's largest correctional facility. While technically green initiatives started in 1997 via a recycling program, the building didn't receive LEED certification until 2010—officially earning the title as the first green prison building in the area. Currently the facility has a plethora of programs that inmates can participate in, such as tending a vegetable and herb garden, working in the green house, repurposing old mattresses, and tending to the grounds with push mowers. There's also a compost program which helps the facility save roughly $43,000 on waste bills each year. If that wasn't enough, the facility also uses an advanced rainwater collection system which helps flush toilet water, as well as energy efficient lighting. 

Coyote Ridge Prison

Since the prison completed its extension in 2008, the LEED certified penitentiary has received much praise for its green efforts. And it shouldn't come as a surprise either: not only does the correctional facility use 5.5 million less gallons of water than "traditional" prisons, which ultimately saves more than $400,000 a year, but the prison also functions mostly on solar power and uses state-of-the art "skinny windows" which keeps cells cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The facility also has energy-efficient boilers, ventilation systems, and the prison's laundry system doesn't rely heavily on local aquifers.

Cedar Creek Corrections Center

Lastly, while Coyote Ridge focuses more on the green initiatives of the actual structure/building,  Cedar Creek (similar to Monroe) is focused more on creating green programs that not only can help save the environment, but also keep their inmates active. After all, implementing programs like recycling, composting, an organic garden, bee-farming and spotted frog research gives inmates a "job" which helps cut costs since prisons don’t have to hire outside staff.   

Hopefully, sometime in the future, all prisons will get on board and transform into sustainable environments as well.

A freelance blogger and writer with a special interest in personal, criminal and professional records, Jane Smith knows the value of a thorough criminal background check.  In her free time, she loves writing about green initiatives and sustainability. She welcomes your feedback at janesmith161@gmail.com

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