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Bakersfield welcomes ARRA-funded green courthouse

By Traci Madison

United States Courthouse Bakersfield
Photo by Sean Airhart, NBBJ

The citizens of Bakersfield no longer have to travel far for jury duty. The new federal courthouse opened in downtown Bakersfield on July 15, 2012. GSA's Pacific Rim Region oversaw the $28.5 million project, which brought a much-needed federal courthouse to California’s southern Central Valley.

Previously, the closest courthouse was in Fresno, California, a nearly two-hour drive for Bakersfield residents. Being able to schedule court sessions in Bakersfield will increase the judiciary’s efficiency and allow the Courts to better serve the local community.

However, the opening of the courthouse is not the only success of this project.

Approximately $2 million were saved during the course of the project, which meant other important projects could be funded.

The local economy also felt a number of other impacts from the courthouse project, which broke ground in July 2010. The project employed a workforce of approximately 500–700 people either directly or indirectly, nearly half from the local community. Involvement by enterprises owned by women, veterans, and minorities represents 31 percent of the project budget.

About $2.5 million has been spent utilizing the services of local subcontractors and suppliers. Gilbane Building Company, the project’s general contractor, estimates that their personnel spent approximately $150,000–$200,000 per month on local businesses.

The successes of this project are not limited to economic impacts. The new building meets GSA's requirements for reduced energy consumption and will feature photovoltaic cells that are estimated to generate clean power for approximately 30 percent of the facility’s total electrical needs.

The building’s sustainability features include low water usage facilities, use of low emission materials, and a reflective roof. These innovative design elements will enable the building to earn a LEED® Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The city of Bakersfield has demonstrated exceptional support of this project by donating the land on which the courthouse was built, and then providing assistance in coordinating the involvement of local utilities. The city also provided meeting facilities at no cost to the government throughout the project planning process.

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