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ENERGY STAR Labeled Building Profile

Livingston County Justice Center
122 West Adair Street
Smithland, KY 42081
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The Livingston County Justice Center provides a new home to the many court and state functions previously housed in the nearby 1846 courthouse and other buildings throughout the county. The 2-story justice center features three courtrooms, their associated jury, prisoner handling, and judicial chamber spaces, court-related state agency offices, and the circuit court clerk's office. The traditionally proportioned stone and brick building is constructed with load-bearing concrete masonry and precast concrete floor planks, and features finish materials and details throughout that signify the building's civic importance while also ensuring its long-term durability.


The project was a part of the State of Kentucky's Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) Capital Facility Investment program that is renovating or replacing dozens of the state's most outdated and underperforming county courthouse buildings. The AOC developed extensive guidelines for building systems and components that they have found to perform effectively over time, with a primary goal of achieving superior energy efficiency and long-term building and equipment durability. The project's ENERGY STAR score of 81 validates both the state's progressive goals as well as the county's determination to operate its facility at maximum efficiency throughout the year.


Several key design decisions determined this project's high performance. Due to the high conductivity of the native soil underlying the new justice center, as well as the numerous skilled installers in the surrounding region, a ground source geothermal heat exchange system not only gave the project a tremendously efficient mechanical system but also saved the client significant equipment installation costs. This system harnesses the latent sustainability of a ground-coupled HVAC system in reducing both energy consumption and carbon-based emissions while providing individual zones with a high degree of comfort control. The building is being managed by a Direct Digital Control (DDC) system that incorporates a significant number of energy management features within it to reduce unnecessary energy use and provide a valuable metric for trending/tracking the building's energy performance over time.


Another key component that aids the building's performance is its structural system. The load-bearing masonry walls successfully achieve a thermal mass effect to mitigate extremes in temperature change over the course of the day. The entire building envelope was designed to provide continuous insulation, with minimal thermal bridging points, that runs uninterrupted across all wall to roof transitions, and all thermal envelope penetrations and joints were sealed to eliminate outside air infiltration. 


Admitting daylight into the courtrooms and public spaces was a goal championed by the client throughout the design process. By carefully articulating punched openings in the masonry walls, the interior is bathed in light, often allowing interior fixtures to be left off in the public hallways. Private circulation was held inboard of the building perimeter specifically to maximize the opportunity to daylight regularly occupied office areas. The Circuit Courtroom is one of the few new courtrooms in the state to incorporate exterior windows into the litigation space, giving this facility the tradition of a daylit courtroom within a new, high performance building. High-efficiency T5 fluorescent lighting fixtures were carefully selected and designed to provide comfortable lighting levels in each space according to the functional task, with great care taken to avoid over-lighting the space. This was accomplished at lighting densities significantly lower than ASHRAE 90.1 prescribed maximum densities, thereby reducing the building's lighting energy consumption against its peers. Installed lighting fixtures were interfaced with an appropriate lighting control strategy suitable for the space and available natural light to allow for artificial lighting outputs to be reduced or eliminated when the individual space served is unused or appropriate natural lighting levels are available.


The most significant reason for the project's superior energy performance is the building maintenance staff and their effective operation of the facility's equipment. The county committed itself to this task by bringing in a building manager months before the completion of the project in order to allow him to gain intimate knowledge of the equipment and controls, and be an expert in operating the system for maximum efficiency from the day the facility opened. The investment in his expertise paid dividends immediately, with the county cutting its first utility bill (January) by over 20 percent the next month. The county has set monthly performance goals for its energy use and has committed itself to long-term energy savings. The Livingston County Justice Center has exceeded all performance expectations established by the AOC, and has become their benchmark project in terms of both systems and performance.


The project was awarded a Kentuckiana Masonry Institute Merit Award for Stone Design.


"Since the early days of the Commonwealth, Kentucky courthouses have held a special place as the center of our communities. Today, we carry on the tradition of providing a safe, efficient facility where citizens can carry out court business and seek access to justice. I appreciate the county leaders and state legislators who joined the Judicial Branch in making this project a reality."

-- John D. Minton, Chief Justice, Kentucky Court of Justice

Please note: Narrative information in this profile has been provided by Livingston County Fiscal Court or a representative of this facility. Other building information was verified and submitted to EPA at the time of application. Building energy performance, operating characteristics, and ownership/management may be subject to change over time.

Service Provider:
JRA Architects

Building Owner:*
Livingston County Fiscal Court

Property Manager:*
Livingston County Fiscal Court

Year(s) Labeled (Rating):
2010 (81)

Facility Type: Courthouse

Total Floorspace: 28950 sf

Year Constructed: 2009

Contract Type: Single Turn-Key Contract
Financing Type: Public Bond

Technologies Used:
   Stage 2-Lighting
   Stage 3-Load Reductions
   Stage 4-Fan Systems
   Stage 5-Heating and Cooling Plant
   Other Technologies/Strategies