Sustainability can mean different things to different organizations.
At Denver Water, sustainability means carefully managing all of its resources and assets to get the most out of them.
Denver Water also believes sustainability means finding uses for things that no longer appear to be useful, like the old, now-abandoned Administration Building.
In November 2019, about 500 Denver Water employees moved into the utility’s new Administration Building, which is sustainable in its own right, with energy-efficient heating and cooling, solar panels to generate renewable energy and a system for reusing water.
After the move, the old building had a date with the wrecking ball. But not before Denver Water found one more use for that building.
“As we got ready to take down the old building, we reached out to the first responder community to see if they would have a need for training in an office building setting,” said Jason Taussig, director of Emergency Management, Safety and Security at Denver Water. “We have great relationships with many different groups, and we felt this could be a unique training opportunity.”
The Denver Fire Department was one of several first responder groups to jump at the chance.
A few weeks after Denver Water employees moved out, the department sent Fire Academy Class 1903 to the old Administration Building to conduct training exercises on search and rescue operations and hose management.
“We’re limited at the training academy with the buildings we have,” said Kevin Cain, a lieutenant in the Denver Fire Department. “The recruits learn the layouts at the academy pretty quickly. Here at Denver Water, this gave our recruits a chance to work in a more realistic building.”
For Vu Doan, a recruit with the Denver Fire Department, it was a great opportunity to train in an office setting with walls and desks and cubicles.
“Denver has a lot of high-rise buildings that we might have to respond to, so we have to be ready for that,” he said.
Denver Water often works with the first responder community.
“We have a lot of assets at Denver Water, like properties and buildings, that we can make available to the community for training purposes,” Taussig said. “And with the first responder community, even though we can’t always support them financially, we can share these resources with them to help them get better at the things they need to do.”
Denver Water’s old Administration Building will be demolished in early 2020. It not only provided a home to Denver Water employees for four decades, it also provided another example of Denver Water’s commitment to sustainability — truly using something to the end of its useful life.