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Leading By Example: Fort Collins Renovates and Expands its Senior Center With Net Zero Energy Goals
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City officials recently expanded the Fort Collin’s Senior Center with the goal of having a net zero energy increase. That is, the Center was remodeled and expanded in such a way that its total energy use will not exceed the total amount of energy that was used prior to the project.  The expansion added to the 41,220 square feet with a number of structural and operational improvements designed to reach a no-energy-increase goal.


The Senior Center expansion was needed to meet the increased demands of the city’s growing population. The population of Fort Collins has grown by approximately 36 percent since the building was constructed in 1995. The Center serves not only senior citizens, but also anyone over the age of eighteen, with a variety of amenities and resources.


The upgraded facility features increased health and wellness opportunities and provided a new auditorium. The new health and wellness wing is home to a unique partnership between Recreation, Columbine Health and University of Colorado Health. It also offers rental space for private events such as weddings and quinceañeras.


According to Brian Hergott, Project Manager, the City intends to reach its goal of net zero energy increase through smarter design, increased efficiency, recycling, and renewable energy. The remodel project diverted 89% of construction waste. Fourteen solar tubes will provide natural daylight in conference rooms and interior spaces. Expansion areas have a well-insulated shell with an R-30 rated roof and R-21 walls above existing green code requirements (e.g., R-20 roofs and R-13 walls).


The remodel is heated and cooled with water source heat pumps using a cooling tower and boiler. A 25 KW solar system built over the gymnasium roof will provide renewable energy. Recycled doors and frames were used in the new addition, and existing furniture was reused in the new space. 


While the expansion features state-of-the-art design and materials, improvements were made to the existing building as well. Induction lighting has been installed in the parking lots.  Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting has been installed in the swimming pool and throughout the new addition. The lighting system features automatic controls to shut off after fifteen minutes of inactivity lighting when the pool is not in use. Improvements made to the existing building are expected to reduce heating and cooling energy loss by approximately 50%.  In order to achieve operational excellence, City staff systematically monitors and adjusts energy and water use in existing buildings to utilize innovative technologies.     


Outside the building, concrete has been used instead of asphalt for the new parking lot to minimize the heat island effect. To conserve water, landscaping utilized xeriscaping, drip irrigation, moisture and temperature sensors, and low watering schedules set on timers and low-pressure valves and rotators. Future aspects of the project include an additional outdoor patio, for which residents can have a title with their names added for a thousand dollar donation, and an electric vehicle charging station to encourage low-emission vehicle use.


The new project will not only allow the Senior Center to better serve the community, but it will do so in a financially and environmentally responsible way that the city and its partners can all be proud of.     


For more information about this project and its progress, contact Rosemarie Russo at


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