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SAN MATEO, CA-A new forensics laboratory will break ground this week in San Mateo that San Mateo County officials say will feature energy-efficient design and construction and set standards for forensics work in the region.

The 30,000-sf laboratory will be built on a four-acre site on Tower Road near the Hillcrest Juvenile Facility. The lab will replace the county’s current lab, a 75-year-old facility that is infested with problems, such as mold infestation, leaking roofs and space limitations.

A civil grand jury report issued last year deemed the old lab to be seismically unsafe with inadequate plumbing and possible unsafe electric wiring. The space was also not in accordance with health or safety codes.

The new lab will serve as an analysis center for 22 police jurisdictions in the county, as well as the sheriff and coroner’s offices, the district attorney, and federal and state agents. County officials describe it as “state-of-the-art.”

It will be built with energy-efficient “green” design features, such as a roof-top solar energy system that will power the building’s lights and climate control measures. Recycled and sustainable building materials will be used throughout the project as well as low emission furnishings, fabrics, paints and workstations.

Initial plans, designs and environmental reviews have been funded with $5 million from the sheriff’s office budget. The total cost of the project is $17 million and will be paid with county bonds. State construction grant funds may help defray some of the costs.

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