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Leon County 'Green' Building Powers Up

By: Leon County Board of County Commissioners Release Email
By: Leon County Board of County Commissioners Release Email

Leon County, FL - September 15, 2012

Leon County celebrated the completion of their Net-Zero facility Friday, Sept. 14 at the Leon County Cooperative Extension building, 615 Paul Russell Road.

The facility, which is also known as the Leon County Sustainable Demonstration Center, is a net-zero building meaning that it is a site that produces renewable energy at a rate equal to or greater than the building's total annual energy consumption.

Thanks to a recent Florida Clean Energy Grant, we have created one of a handful of net-zero buildings in the entire Southeast, said Leon County Commission Chairman Akin Akinyemi.

A group of more than 75 people, including State Rep. Alan Williams, representatives from Florida's Office of Energy and the University of Florida, joined residents to attend the opening of the facility where they learned about the source of the buildings power. There are 253 solar photovoltaic cells on a ground-mounted structure, which also doubles as shaded parking. The solar array is sized to a 60-KW system, which supplies about 40 percent of the energy needed to power the 13,000 square-foot building. In comparison, the average home may be sized to a 5-KW system.

Also, a large portion of the facility's heating and air system was replaced by a geothermal system, which uses the earth's relatively stable temperature of approximately 68 degrees to naturally cool or heat the building. A series of pipes carry water through 60 vertical loops in bore holes that are 90-feet deep into the ground. This geothermal system is approximately 40 percent more energy efficient than a traditional heating and air system.

Just Thursday night, we were honored for being a state finalist for the Sustainable Florida Best Practice Award, said Leon County Administrator Vincent S. Long. We know that while Leon County has quickly emerged and has been recognized as a front-runner in the area of sustainability, we still have a lot of work to do.

Fridays event highlighted Leon Countys achievements made at the Cooperative Extension facility. The public was invited to view the ceremonial Power Up at the center and take guided tours of the facility where it was explained that the building was also equipped with a rainwater collection system on the roof.

The rain water enters gutters and is directed into one of four 10,000 gallon holding tanks known as cisterns. These cisterns are re-used petroleum storage tanks, which were once used for gas stations. During the course of a year, more than 400,000 gallons of rain water will offset prior irrigation demands.

It is a privilege to be recognized as an example of best practice throughout our entire state, said Leon County Director of Resource Stewardship Maggie Theriot. This recognition was not only earned because of the net-zero status, but the collective efforts to transform the Cooperative Extension site into the Sustainable Demonstration Center.

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For more information, contact Kendra Zamojski, Director of the Leon County Extension Center, at (850) 606-5200 work / ZamojskiK@LeonCountyFL.gov or Jon D. Brown, Director of Leon County Community and Media Relations, at (850) 606-5300 work / (850) 694-1405 cell / cmr@LeonCountyFL.gov .


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