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A new $18 million fire station in the Windermere area of Edmonton – featuring 382 solar panels and geothermal heating and cooling – was unveiled on Friday.

“It’s crazy exciting! We’re thrilled for the opportunity to live and operate out of the city’s first net-zero building and it’s getting close!” Deputy Fire Chief Tiffany Edgecombe said.

“Net zero” means the station is designed to produce as much energy as it uses.

Along with the solar panels, it’s hooked up to a geo-thermal field buried deep beneath the parking lot, roughly 75 metres down.

From the insulation, to the way the doors open, every part of the building works to make the most of that energy.

“The reason why we have the insulation in the floor is to actually insure that the heat doesn’t drop into the ground and dissipate out,” explained Jesse Banford with the City of Edmonton.

There are fewer and thicker windows and the firetruck doors open like a closet, not a garage, to help keep heat in.

The extra technology added a few million dollars to the price tag, but it’s money the city expects to eventually recoup through energy savings.

“We’ll be watching how the systems are performing, and we’ll be establishing baselines, and then determining from there when we’ll get our return on investment,” said Shannon Fitzsimmons, also with the city.

While the station has a unique design and futuristic features, its main purpose is to fill a community need.

“When the station opens, it’ll definitely decrease our response times in this area. We know that right now we are not serving this area in our standard response times,” Edgecombe said.

Fire Station No. 31 is located at 3865 Allan Dr. S.W. At least eight firefighters will work out of the station when it opens in the summer.

Original article.