Provo’s new city hall utilizes all-electric design to eliminate local pollution

(Video made by Brigham Tomco)

The new Provo City Center, to be completed in late May, will emit no local pollution and will be an example of operational and environmental efficiency, according to those involved in the project.

The building is at the intersection of Center Street and 500 West. It is being built adjacent to the old city hall, which needed to be replaced because of safety concerns and its inability to meet the demands of a growing city, according to a Provo government website.

Construction of the new facility began February 2020 after voters narrowly approved a $69 million Police, Fire & City Facilities Bond two years prior. The old building will be demolished after a transition in June.

Now with only the interior left to complete, the Provo City Center is an impressive sight. “The building is very unique. It’s like no other that I’ve done or I’ve heard of other people doing,” Kyle Krutsch, the superintendent of Layton Construction Company said. Layton Construction is the company coordinating the project.

Construction of the new Provo City Hall will be completed in late May. The west side of the building is devoted to public safety and the east to city offices. (Layton Construction Company)

Donald Jarvis, the mayor’s sustainability adviser, highlighted the building’s unique design features which include abundant natural lighting and the total absence of natural gas, what he saw as an optimistic sign of change.

“It’s huge news that a large municipal building in Provo will not use any fossil fuels and will produce no local pollution whatsoever,” Jarvis said. “In the fight against climate change, Provo is setting an example of what other cities and citizens should be doing.”

According to Jarvis, most buildings, including private homes, are heated by burning natural gas. “Every time the thermostat kicks on, we’re polluting our neighborhood and the planet and contributing to global warming,” he said. The city center will achieve net-zero emissions by using electric boilers and condensers to heat and cool the building.

Though he, and others in the sustainability committee, were among the key influencers in urging the construction of a more environmentally friendly building, it was Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi who took the lead in making the decision.

“We have to give an enormous credit to our mayor,” Jarvis said. “I think it’s wonderful that Provo City has decided to put the extra investment in making an all-electric building.”

Despite being an expensive investment, the switch to sustainable heating and cooling will pay off, Jarvis said. VCBO Architecture, the company that designed the city center, estimates that the new building will have an 18% annual saving in utility costs, Jarvis said.

According to Provo’s Director of Parks and Recreation, Scott Henderson, these savings will result in decreased taxes for Provo residents.

Henderson was asked by Kaufusi to head up the construction of the city center, adding to the list of projects he has managed for the city which include the Covey Arts Center and Recreation Center.

These projects were noted for coming in on time and within budget, according to both Jarvis and Henderson.

This project is no different. An emphasis on efficiency, governmental and environmental, is key for Henderson, who sees it as his responsibility to be frugal and wise with the people’s taxes as well as the earth’s resources.

“Efficient city government also ties with better, more efficient services and also ties to a building that is very prudent in its use of natural resources,” he said.

In addition to being net-zero ready, the city center’s design is intended to maximize the effectiveness of human resources.

The structure is built around a staircase that divides the administrative offices from the Police and Fire department. Each floor, and each room, was thoughtfully designed to promote efficiency and facilitate communication, Henderson said.  

This pairing of environmental sustainability and administrative efficiency could not be more natural, Henderson said. “I think all that fits together in the same package. And that is something that I’m really excited about with this building.”

Once construction is complete, a grand opening will allow citizens to tour the building and see what Henderson is so excited about. He hopes Provo residents will be inspired by the new city center to be more responsible stewards over their own resources.

“Every standard and every initiative always starts with a single event. And I think we are all hoping that the city hall could be that single event catalyst for the future,” Henderson said.

The city center is largley illuminated by natural light. This decreases electricity consumption and contributes to the annual utility savings of the building. (Brigham Tomco)
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