2011 LOOK BACK: Peoria

Peoria Mayor Bob Barrett cuts the ribbon on an expansion of the Peoria Municipal Courthouse during a ceremony marking the occasion Friday. The expansion and remodel have earned the building a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Dave Martinez/Daily News-Sun

While most people probably hope they never to go to court at all, Peoria’s may draw a crowd.

Friday morning, city officials had a rededication ceremony for the Municipal Court building on 83rd Avenue and Monroe Street, which has earned LEED Gold certification for environmentally friendly construction and design.

“This is a special moment for me,” said George Anagnost, Peoria’s presiding judge. “This is my 16th year as presiding judge, and it’s been a privilege for me to be a part of the city’s growth.”

Anagnost noted that when he interviewed for the position the court staff was in Peoria City Hall.

“The entire department was in that little Acacia room,” he said. “That’s how much the city has grown.”

The growth of Peoria necessitated an expanded court facility, but Mayor Bob Barrett said city officials wanted to do it right. Rather than just build a bigger courthouse, he said, they sought to build smarter.

“This is not just an upgrade,” he said. “This is a step forward in sustainability for the city. It is one more step in a multiple-step process to become an environmentally sound and forward-looking city.”

The design phase began in 2008, with construction under way in 2009 and completed in 2010. The courthouse was doubled in size, from 19,000 square feet to 38,000. The previous facility had only two courtrooms, while the new building has four. It features upgraded recording and video display systems, including capability for video arraignments and video evidence presentation. It has dedicated private space so attorney-client meetings can take place on site. But again, bells and whistles aside, Barrett said one goal was held above all others.

“We wanted it not just to look good,” he said. “Which is why we took some of the highest environmental standards and ran with them.”

The city set out to gain the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver certification, said City Manager Carl Swenson, but when the application was submitted they were given LEED Gold.

“We set out to earn silver, and we surpassed that,” he said.

The environmentally friendly decisions can be seen all over the facility. Low-water-use landscaping outside the building and low-flow water fixtures inside will save an estimated 50,477 gallons of water per year. High-efficiency light fixtures are equipped with sensors to turn lights off in unoccupied spaces. The new air-conditioning system has been designed to maximize efficiency, as well, and the city estimates a yearly savings of $13,090 in electricity costs.

“This is a significant improvement,” Swenson said. “It is a fantastic space. It is not only a beautiful building, but more than that, it is a highly functional building. It represents our commitment to sustainability.”

Jeff Dempsey may be reached at 623-876-2531 or jdempsey@yourwestvalley.com.

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