Tuesday, October 27, 2009

County Has Executive Order to be Green

Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato signed an executive order Tuesday that among other things forces the county to reduce energy consumption by 20% in the next 5 years. Water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by the same amount. The order also calls for increased conversion of the County’s vehicle fleet, and LEED certification for future new construction and renovation projects that exceed 35,000 square-feet. To help administer the efforts, a sustainability coordinator position that had been funded by a grant will be added to the county’s budget. Jeaneen Zappa currently holds that position. She says two Energy Savings Companies (ESCO) are vying for a contract with the county to enter into a “guaranteed energy savings agreement.” Zappa says the county spends more than $5 million a year on electricity alone so there is a lot of room to save. The ESCOs have already begun their evaluations and have toured 20 of the county’s largest buildings. Zappa says once those buildings are evaluated they will be “triaged” and the work that will result in the biggest savings will be done first.
To help keep track of the effort, the executive order requires the County to establish a publicly available score card of sustainability metrics and goals. That report will be updated at least once a year. Zappa says renovating the buildings with things like green roofs, rain gardens, new windows and energy efficient lights is just the first step. Employees will be asked to change their habits to help reduce consumption as well. Zappa says that could include practices as simple as remembering to turn off the lights when you leave a room.

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