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Blue Earth County Justice Center

Mankato, MN


Blue Earth County, MN determined that despite a limited budget, their new Justice Center should be a model for sustainable design in the region. While to date no LEED certified detention center had been built in the state of Minnesota, the client asked the design team to develop strategies to achieve LEED certification. The brief for the design was to produce a cost-effective solution that would also serve as a symbol to the community of the County’s commitment to public safety and sustainability. In addition to that challenge, the client wanted to ensure the facility was built to the highest technical standards, utilizing state-of-the-art technology in both the detention portion of the project and the law enforcement and courts spaces. The energy intensive nature of the integrated 203-bed jail facility made achieving LEED certification a challenge. However, this challenge allowed the design team along with their LEED consultant to explore various innovative strategies that had not previously been utilized in a detention facility in the region. In addition to providing a 203-bed jail facility, the new Justice Center integrates all courts and County law enforcement facilities under one roof, including 911 Dispatch and Emergency Operations. The extensive building is scaled and conceived to be an anchor to a fast developing area of the city of Mankato, while reinforcing the character of the surrounding light commercial and residential developments. The final product, which achieved LEED Silver Certification, has proven to be an example of what is possible in sustainable design for multi-use justice facilities even in harsh northern climates. The moderate cost and high quality of the completed design have already encouraged other municipalities in the region to make energy efficiency and sustainable design features a top priority in their justice facilities.



Blue Earth County


Type of facility

Court, Detention, Law Enforcement

Type of construction


Site Area

37.68 acres

Area of building

172,148 SF

Total Cost of Construction


Status of Project




Klein McCarthy Architects in association with Paulsen Architects

Structural Engineer

Paulsen Architects

Mechanical Engineer

Engineering Design Initiative, Ltd.

Electrical Engineer

Engineering Design Initiative, Ltd.

Civil Engineer

Bolton & Menk, Inc.

Interior Design

Paulsen Architects

Justice Planning

Klein McCarthy Architects

Security Consultant

Ericksen Ellison and Associates

LEED Consultant


Food Service Consultant

Robert Rippe & Associates, Inc.

Landscape Architect

Damon Farber Associates

Construction Manager

Construction Analysis Management Incorporated


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