Editor's note (12/23/09): Bernie Madoff was moved to the medical wing of his prison. Officials, citing privacy concerns, won't reveal the nature of his condition. But there are things we do know about his prison -- like the fact that it's eco-friendly....

Bernie Madoff didn’t want to go to Butner Federal Prison, located in a quiet suburban area outside of Durham, N.C. He would have preferred Otisville, which is just 70 miles outside of NYC, but being rich and famous doesn’t mean the feds care about your preferences. At least Madoff can take comfort in the fact that the prison where he’ll spend the remaining years of his life is green. 

Butner is the nation’s first and only LEED-certified prison, meaning it met the U.S. Green Building Council’s standards for sustainable design. The medium-security federal corrections institute took steps early in the building process to be ultra efficient and found that such measures save money and don’t have a major effect on operations.

Among the prison’s sustainable aspects are bicycle storage, alternative fuel refueling stations, specified parking for alternative transportation, reduced site disturbance, storm water management and an exterior designed to reduce the heat island effect.

It also has water-smart landscaping, low-flow plumbing fixtures, optimized energy performance and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Many of the materials used to build the prison were locally sourced, 70 percent of construction waste was recycled and the faculty uses green cleaning products.

“It really was almost business as usual for the most part because a lot of the equipment that we put in is energy efficient already,” says Bill Downs, senior project manager for the construction of the prison. “The components are out there to enhance whatever construction is going on and they are not significantly higher in price. A lot of the manpower at the Butner project went to man-hours doing reports, documenting and putting statistics together that you don’t usually do with a construction job.”

Madoff will be able to spend his time in the library, recreation yard or watching television – as long as the programs are rated PG-13 or lower. He’ll also have a chance to get a job taking care of some of that sustainable xeriscaping. He may not have his freedom, but he’ll be living the leisurely green life, which, some would argue, is more than this criminal deserves.

Also on MNN: 

• Discover the roots of this green prison revolution.

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