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14 green prisons

By: Andrew Schenkel on Oct. 25, 2010, 11:05 a.m.
brown and yellow sheriff patch

Photo: Courtesy Blue Earth County

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Blue Earth County Justice Center, Minnesota

Minnesota’s Blue Earth County Justice Center has many corrections officials green with envy. (Perhaps they should add some green to their badge?) The facility includes a 150-cell county jail (which can be expanded to 203 beds) plus the sheriff’s office, County Attorney’s Office, Correction’s Office/Probation, Courts and Court Administration all housed under one roof. So what makes it green? A geothermal heating system that runs 48 miles of tubes under the facility. The tubes circulate both water and heated air. In the middle of the Minnesota winter, water in the tubes absorbs ground heat, which can be converted to air that heats the prison. In addition to the heating system, builders used recycled and local building materials when building the Blue Earth County Justice Center. This combined to earn the facility LEED certification. The Mankato Free Press reported that it will take just over seven years for the improvements to the Blue Earth County Justice center to pay for themselves with energy-cost savings.