Onondaga Nation’s fire station brings sustainability and community together

As you probably have noticed by now, here at The Optimist Daily, we are major advocates of sustainable architecture as well as community-building, and we are elated whenever we come across an initiative that combines both.

The most recent example that we’ve uncovered involves eco-friendly materials, community-focused design, and renewable energy — all brought together to build the Onondaga Nation’s new fire station in Onondaga County, New York.

The new building, which replaced an old, corroded firehouse, is called Tsha’thoñswatha’ and it is the product of a close collaboration between Syracuse-based Ashely McGraw Architects and the Nation community. Serving as a model for sustainable building, the construction was designed to meet net-zero energy standards and was built by local community members.

Named Tsha’thoñswatha after the Nation’s phrase ‘where they put it out,’ the new fire station also houses a community hall aimed at bringing residents closer together. What’s more, unlike its steel predecessor, the new firehouse is made almost entirely out of timber. The designers specifically chose materials that were natural, local, and recyclable or renewable whenever possible.

To take the building’s sustainability one step further, the energy-neutral-minded architects equipped the firehouse with a 100kW solar array, while ten 400-feet-deep wells provide it with geothermal heating and cooling. Meanwhile, natural light is optimized throughout to reduce reliance on the LED lights.

In addition to its aesthetic and eco-friendly appeal, the firehouse also brings people together by connecting to a 150-seat wood community hall, whose interior is evocative of a longhouse.

Image source: Ashely McGraw Architects

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