July | August 2017



 

5 GREEN IDEAS

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Separate Garbage.

Going green isn’t trash talk in Washington; instead the garbage is going green.
In the last year, garbage collection at the capitol campus has changed. Instead of tossing food waste into any trash can, employees dump it into a single composting container, said Ron Major, resource conservation manager for the state’s Department of General Administration. That means every trash bag in the building doesn’t have to be picked up every day—and the food leftovers don’t go to a landfill with the rest of the garbage.
The project cost about $10,000 to implement, but it’s diverted 145 tons of waste from the landfill—saving about $60 a ton in landfill disposal costs, Major said. That’s expected to increase this year.
“We saved money and we helped the environment,” Major said. “I can’t see any downside to that.”

Try Recycling.

Plastic is energy.
Steve Russell, vice president of the Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council, an organization that represents companies in the business of chemistry, said recycling plastic offers many energy benefits and savings.
Russell said new technologies make it possible for plastic to be burned for fuel. While turning plastics into energy may seem far off, Russell said some municipalities and electric companies are generating energy from it already.
That’s an added benefit, Russell said, “besides doing the right thing for the environment and keeping these materials out of the landfill. … The more we divert from landfill, the more communities save in disposal costs.”

Recover Heat.

When it comes to computer servers, no heat is wasted in Washington.
The Department of General Administration takes the heat generated from the Department of Information Services’ data center and uses it to preheat outside air to a 600,000 square foot building on the capitol campus, said Ron Major, resource conservation manager for the states Department of General Administration.
“We’re trying to get as much out of the energy that we put into these buildings as we can,” said Major.

Replace Lights.

The Oklahoma Arts Council is expecting to save nearly $2,000 a year, just in its Betty Price art gallery and just by changing lights.
That’s just one way the state is saving money by replacing lighting. In the Capitol parking lot, 28 400 watt high pressure sodium lights were replaced with 200 watt LED lights.
It’s not just the Sooner State seeing the light.
The state capitol and executive residence in Wisconsin was retrofitted to use compact fluorescent light bulbs. In New Mexico, the state installed energy efficient ballasts and bulbs, as well as compact fluorescent lights. It’s also installed motion systems in some areas so the lights aren’t on all the time.

Avoid Runoff.

The Massachusetts College of Art and Design has found a way to marry education and sustainability.
An architecture professor worked with her architectural design class to design a rooftop garden using milk crates and greenery. A portion of the college’s 11th floor is covered with the greenery encased in steel on the outer rim, said Craig Kilburn, sustainability/environmental health and safety officer at the college.
“The primary goal was to incorporate the green roof into the architecture of an existing campus, which can in turn have effects of water retention and less runoff to the streets,” Kilburn said.
The project cost about $30,000, most of which was donated. Kilburn said the college has seen positive impacts from the project, including psychological. “It’s definitely much more pleasing to look at than a black roof,” he said.
And while a cooling effect inside the building hasn’t been proved yet, Kilburn said it is obvious on the roof itself.

 

 

Stimulus Boosts State Energy Efficiency Efforts

by Mikel Chavers
South Carolina’s move to green has been mainly for economic development.
The state doesn’t produce any coal, natural gas or oil and must import those resources.
“So when we spend money on traditional fossil fuels, apart from the environmental impact, this is a drain on the South Carolina economy. We spend $20 billion a year on energy,” John F. Clark, director of the South Carolina Energy Office, said.
“When we push doing things green … our main focus is economic.”
South Carolina, like other states, is getting help in its energy efforts from the federal stimulus package. The recession isn’t slowing energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives. Those are more important than ever in this economy, state energy office officials said.
“As money becomes tighter, in fact the need to conserve becomes greater,” said Seth Effron, spokesman for the North Carolina Energy Office.
“In this economy, energy costs are going up,” said Clark. People can’t pay the upfront costs for energy efficiency projects, he said.
That’s why South Carolina is using 80 percent of the stimulus funds under the state energy program to improve energy efficiency in public buildings with projects like replacing old lights with energy efficient ones and upgrading to efficient heating and air systems. That amounts to $40 million of the total $50 million in stimulus funding, according to Clark.
To do that, the state uses a revolving loan fund for the projects, where loan payments go back into the fund, replenishing it for years to come. Clark said there’s more interest in the state’s revolving loan fund than ever before.
Wells Fargo is seeing a similar uptick in interest. Part of Wells Fargo’s business is to help states and other municipalities implement their climate control, energy efficiency and sustainable initiatives.
“We’re getting more calls now more than ever,” said Wayne Seaton, managing director and head of Sustainable Public Infrastructure for Wells Fargo Securities Public Finance. “Generally, in slow economic times, there’s more of a need for financial creativity and innovation … so if we put this in the context of sustainability and energy efficiency, it’s not as if conserving energy is a bad thing—it’s a great thing. And every dollar saved in terms of energy costs, only helps the cash flows and the bottom line of any entity.”
Seaton’s group within Wells Fargo is interested in helping states and other municipalities get the best bang for the stimulus buck. It’s more than just spending the grant money, Seaton said. There are all sorts of complex financing mechanisms that can offer more long-term energy efficiency effects.
“The techniques are pretty complex—it’s not as if you have a $5 million check and you just use it to buy $5 million in solar panels,” Seaton said.
In New Hampshire, to understate it, the state energy office is having a busy year, according to Karen Rantamaki, the state energy manager.
Although her office isn’t able to hire additional staff because of the down economy, its two-year budget ballooned from $250,000 to $3 million this biennium, Rantamaki said. With $10 million in stimulus funding, the budget for energy efficiency projects is $13 million.
In North Carolina, the state made sure that along with stimulus funding for energy-efficient public buildings, there were folks on hand to help state agencies, local governments and public schools develop energy audits—a foundation for determining the scope and direction of any energy efficiency improvements.
In just three months from January to March, the state provided technical assistance to nearly 300 local governments and educational institutions, all to help them plan how to save money through energy efficiency, according to Effron.
That’s a huge testament to the surge in interest, said Effron.
And even after stimulus funding dries up next year, the show must go on.
In North Carolina, based on a 2002 law, state buildings must reduce the amount of energy used by 20 percent this year and by 30 percent by 2015.
South Carolina is operating under a similar mandate. Under a law passed in 2008, South Carolina is required to reduce energy use in schools, state colleges and universities and state agencies by 20 percent. The state lagged other states in adopting such a mandate, in part because it historically has had lower energy costs.
“And in the world of energy conservation and efficiency, a lot is driven by the cost of energy,” Clark said. “Rising energy costs have made people in South Carolina and probably in the Southeast look at energy issues a lot differently than before.”
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