Prairie Village looking at highest level of LEED certification for new public works facility

A rendering showing an approach that would replace the existing Prairie Village Public Works facilities with a new building with enough space to accommodate some city hall staff.

The Prairie Village city council this week gave preliminary direction to city staff to begin detailed planning for the replacement of the aging public works facility off Somerset Drive east of Corinth Square with new facilities that could meet the highest level of energy efficiency certification.

Earlier this year, the department conducted an analysis of the condition of the existing public works buildings, finding that four of the six structures on site were in either fair or poor condition and that the facilities would need major renovations to be brought into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

On Monday, Public Works Project Manager Melissa Prenger gave an overview of four approaches the city could take to update the facilities. One plan called for the remodeling of the existing shop. Another called for a building that would combine office and shop space in a single facility with enough room for current public works staff. The final two options called for the construction of a larger new building that would have room for public works operations as well as some of the staff that currently work out of city hall.

Among the items that got lengthy discussion Monday was whether the city should set out to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Prenger estimated that a design that would qualify for Platinum status, the highest level of LEED certification, would add between $600,000 and $800,000 to the initial project cost.

Some members of the council suggested that investment — which would lead to savings in energy expenses over the life of the building, which is estimated at around 65 years — would be worth the cost.

“To me, that it worth putting our money and doing the right thing and doing what we say we want to do as far as being an environmentally friendly and forward thinking city,” said Ward 1 Councilmember Jori Nelson.

Features in a LEED Platinum design would include geothermal heating and cooling and a solar panel array, among others.

Ultimately, the council directed staff to begin exploring plans for a design that would create a new building with around 21,250 square feet of usable space — enough to accommodate some of the current city hall staff — and aim for the highest level of LEED certification.

City Administrator Wes Jordan noted that the project, forecast to cost just over $10 million, would likely require the issuance of bonds. He said that given the stewardship of previous governing bodies, the city’s credit rating is exemplary, giving it the ability to borrow at low rates. The city is currently on schedule to retire all of its existing bonded debt by 2023.

Public Works staff will return to the council in the coming months with additional details about the proposal for formal consideration.