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Archive for November, 2009

One-side Planning Will Break Your Budget

November 23rd, 2009

Revenue-driven organizations can be overwhelmed by the rush to build. Not planning for current and future situations at the same time will result in tremendous cost hikes, in both construction and operations. A little foresight can save a lot of dollars in the overall construction costs of the correctional facility. This is where creating an end-game master plan designed for organized growth and development delivers huge savings.


Giving definition to three areas will determine your end-game master plan:


·         Identify start-up bed capacity target – What is the right number of beds and cells to optimize start-up cash-flow?


·         Identify right-sized bed capacity growth stages – What is the most cost-efficient capacity expansion size?


·         Identify appropriately-sized capacity – Finally, what is the target bed capacity of the prison? How can the prison expand to meet end-game capacity while minimizing disruption to existing operations and not jeopardize security?


Building too big at the beginning, in effort to meet a far-off expected inmate capacity, will increase up-front construction cost and strain your operational budget as the facility sits empty. In the same way, planning and building to only house the current population needs will break your future budget with sky-rocketed expansion costs and potential security threats.


Knowing what function you want your facility to play directly after opening as well as in the future will play a significant role in site selection and facility design. This also ensures upfront or expansion costs do not shoot through the roof.


For more cost saving ideas, read our free eBook: Five Correctional Facility Strategies that Cut Construction Costs.

mwentworth Uncategorized

How to Find Money for Prisons

November 16th, 2009

Federal and state aid for state, county and city municipal projects is drying up. Many state governments are dealing with budget deficits reaching into the millions and billions. While this is the case, the prison population and population types are consistently growing and diversifying as existing local prisons and jails age. 

In the past, General Obligation Bonds (GOB) have provided long-term financing of capital projects. These types of bonds for many states require an approved voter referendum, which can take several years to pass. In addition, GOBs calculate into the municipality’s debt limit, which could limit funding for other needed projects and equipment. 

Municipal Lease-Purchase Financing (MLPF) allows for easy access to the funds needed for much-needed projects without weighing on the debt limit. MLPF is structured as a series of one-year renewable obligations that are subject to the governmental entities ability to appropriate funds for the continuation of the lease. If the lessee discontinues payments, the agreement is terminated and the title of the items on lease is surrendered to the lesser.

Private organizations such as the Municipal Capital Markets Group provide MLPF to local municipalities in need of upgrading their detention centers even when cash flow from state and federal bodies is strapped.
Unlike GOBs, MLPF:

  • Does not require voter approval
  • Not treated as debt, but as an alternative source of capital
  • Does not sit on the municipal budget as huge investment
  • Is able to be used for the whole project or just parts of it
  • Allows for municipalities to eventually own the leased items

mwentworth Uncategorized

Alternative Energy Resources in Correctional Facilities

November 13th, 2009

There is recently massive support and funding by the U.S. government to increase the energy efficiency of large public and municipal facilities. These facilities can benefit financially from the governments greening initiatives, cash to help improve sustainability otherwise losing a return-on-investment, by implementing environmentally friendly practices and technologies within the building design.

Making a correctional facility more environmentally friendly could be a challenging task when taking into account security and regulatory restrictions. Specific problems include: geographic location, elevated energy and water consumption and material choices. Fortunately, however, diverse solutions can bring the corrections industry into the green age.

Geographic location

Correction facilities devour extensive amounts of green space due to large parking lots, the extensive size of the building, bare recreation yards and security parameters with limited natural visual barriers.  Building on brownfield sites such as abandoned industrial facilities and landfills is just the solution in rural areas. In urban areas, erecting a correction facility on a public transportation route can reduce the amount of parking traffic and thus reduce the need for a land-consuming parking lot.

Water consumption

The need for water increases as penal populations escalate. From showers, laundry and kitchens, a lot of water is consumed within prison walls. By implementing PC-based water systems, security is able to control individual or group plumbing fixtures in a cell or cells, group showers or individual showers to reduce and manage water usage. Using treated recovered water gathered from rain and air handler condensation for toilet flushing will reduce the consumption of potable water.

Energy consumption

Correctional facilities endure strict limitations on natural lighting options due to security and, by nature of the 24/7 operation needs, require immense amount of energy. Using high-mass construction such as precast concrete takes advantage of thermal inertia to regulate the internal temperatures, or implementing a radiant heating and cooling system within the walls or floor and design a tight, energy-efficient building envelope will generate operational savings.


Material choice for penal facilities is limited due to strict maintenance and security requirements. Building designers can maximize the amount of recycled content in materials traditionally used such as steel and concrete containing fly ash.

Check out our next blog on alternative energy resources that are available and being used.

mwentworth Uncategorized

A Step Toward Environmentally-Friendly Prisons: Applying LEED to Correctional Facility Design

November 10th, 2009

The fundamental nature of penal facilities does not easily lend itself to sustainability. With construction costs rising, everything a facility owner can do to reduce life-cycle cost and represent sound financial stewardship of tax payer dollars is essential. By implementing Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) into sustainable strategies for a facility, the owner has taken the first step toward a building that will operate more efficiently and reduce cost. LEED is a set of standards that qualify and guide greener building designs.

LEED was created by the U.S. Green Building Council to enhance environmentally sustainable construction. LEED qualified buildings attain points by applying various elements within six interrelated categories:

  1. sustainable sites,
  2. water efficiency,
  3. energy and atmosphere,
  4. materials and resources,
  5. indoor environmental quality and
  6. innovation and design process

Totaled points result in one of either four levels of accreditation.

Using LEED as a guide to building a sustainable building is only a small part of creating an environmentally friendly facility and is not a one-size-fits-all program. Prison architects and designers need to work with the guidelines to build a strategy that works for the long-term sustainability of each unique prison. Several correctional facilities are already LEED approved as designers and architects understood and applied various sustainable systems meeting the unique needs of each facility.

  • Federal Correctional Institution #3, in Butner, N.C., was the first federal prison project to earn LEED certification. This project is an example of how simple energy and water efficiency strategies can significantly impact a build’s resource consumption. The energy model completed during the design phase of the facility predicted energy efficiency strategies would result in a 31 percent decrease in energy costs. For the approximately 530,000-square-foot facility, annual savings would total to $137,000.
  • In Minnesota, Blue Earth County’s new justice center, opened in March of this year, is also LEED certified. The center, which includes a 125-bed county jail, sheriff’s department, county attorney and corrections department and courts, utilizes a ground source heat pump as well as recycled and local building materials. The greener applications added $400,000 dollars to the upfront cost. Administrators plan to regain that cost via better operating efficiencies in seven years.
  • In Washington State, an executive order mandates LEED Silver-rated public facilities. Clearly understanding the long-term pay off of green construction, Washington State Prison, a nearly $500 million dollar project, was the first of its size and type awarded Silver LEED. Through a tight coalition of designers and builders, the 270,000 square foot facility implemented energy efficient equipment and responsible site development.

Although the return on investments resides more on the social side, it is clear that implementing alternative energy resources is an important component for environmentally -friendly prisons.

mwentworth Uncategorized

5 Proven Steps That Will Cut Prison Operation Costs

November 2nd, 2009

Performa’s ebook Five Correctional Facility Strategies that Cut Construction Costs lays out the five steps every prison builder should undergo before digging the dirt. The ebook is a great guide for correctional facility developers, both private and public, as they drive the prethinking process.

If the strategies defined in the ebook are successfully executed before the construction or designing process of any facility project, owners and operators will attain their top priority: dramatically decreased operational costs.

The five key steps are:

1.) Understand how your land selection and use affects your future: rushing to build often results in reduced site capacity and a huge waste of land. Reversely, if land is analyzed before construction and design, the most-valuable resource will be utilized to reduce post-construction operational costs.

2.) Create an end-of-game plan: creating master plan with the needs to tomorrow and today in mind will result in organized growth that doesn’t result in significant expansion costs.

3.) Analyze operational processes: designing to optimize work processes will directly result in maximum productivity of both staff and inmates.

4.) Take a standardized approach to design: contradicting the creative notion of architecture, often times the most cost-effect and saving designs are ones that can be repeated with minor modifications.

5.) Bring all project bodies together early: collaborating early with call construction bodies including architects, contractor and construction crew will bring down construction costs, efficiently.

mwentworth Uncategorized