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Tallahassee Solid Waste Services Earns Green Building Label

TALLAHASSEE, Florida - The City of Tallahassee's Solid Waste Services Administration building has received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED, Silver certification from the United States Green Building Council. It is the second municipal building in Florida and the first in North Florida to earn the distinction.

LEED certification is the points-based benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. It promotes sustainability by recognizing a building's performance in five areas - sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.

"Earning this award is a true feather in the City's green cap," said Mayor John Marks. "We're not simply saying we want to reduce our carbon footprint, we are doing it. As a whole, our community is making great strides in the right direction, and I'm proud that our local government is leading by example."

When the city government decided to upgrade the 30 year old Solid Waste Services building to make more space, it made the decision to do so in the most ecologically friendly way possible.

The city opted to renovate the existing structure, instead of demolishing it and starting from scratch. Over 75 percent of the debris generated from renovation was salvaged and reused or recycled, keeping it out of the local landfill.

The new building boasts new, eco-smart features such as occupancy sensors on lights, programmable thermostats and low-mercury fluorescent lamps.

With waterless urinals, drought tolerant native landscaping and low-flow toilets that use only 0.8 gallons of water per flush, the building's water usage has been reduced by 69 percent in five months compared to that same time frame in the old building two years ago.

Grant funds to offset the additional costs of the project were provided by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection through an InnovativeRecycling Grant.

Grant funds for Florida-friendly landscaping were provided by the Florida Organics Recycling Center for Excellence.

"This was no small task," said Reginald Ofuani, general manager of Solid Waste Services. "We knew it would be a challenge, requiring an enormous amount of cooperation, patience and dedication, but the final product makes it obvious that we made the right decision. The new building is a testament to the resolve of this city to be at the forefront of the green movement."

The city will host a celebration in late February or early March to commemorate this achievement. Tours of the new facility will be given during the event.

The SWS building is part of the city's overall "Go Green Tallahassee" initiative to promote and encourage environmental responsibility in the state capital.

Through projects such as CANpaign, a community recycling challenge; Fleet Management's biodiesel fuel production facility; and the Tram Road Reuse Facility, which will provide reclaimed water for public irrigation, the city is attempting to become an eco-conscious community.

In addition, the Water Utility's Wastewater Division has become ISO Certified for its Environmental Management System. This internationally recognized accomplishment helps protect the region's natural resources and places the city's wastewater utility as the first such facility in the state to receive the designation.

An extensive photovoltaic solar energy system at Trousdell generates power for the city's electric system.

Earlier this month, Tallahassee won the Green City Local Government Standard Award presented by the Florida Green Building Coalition, Inc. for outstanding environmental stewardship. Tallahassee is only the second city in Florida to receive the honor.

"I'm incredibly proud to receive this designation on behalf of the City of Tallahassee's elected officials and staff," said Mayor Marks. "The Green City award is an outstanding affirmation of our organizational commitment to environmental stewardship, but also represents the efforts to partner with our citizens and other agencies to protect Tallahassee's beautiful natural assets."

As part of its efforts to go green, Tallahassee maintains an environmentally preferable purchasing program for local government.

New employees are given an overview of the city's environmental activities. They learn what employees can do at home and at work to reduce energy, waste, and water consumption and they are given a reusable water bottle or mug to prevent them from tossing disposable paper or styrofoam cups.

Recycling of city obsolete electronic equipment is maintained and a policy developed for equipment energy conservation measures and features when not in use by employees.

The city uses energy efficient lighting and controls for outdoor courts, parks and playfields and offers green power to residents.

Residents can get free compact fluorescent lamps and energy audit kits to low-income customers through the home energy audit program.

Tallahassee has a curbside recycling program for residents and offers commercial recycling collection services to businesses. The city tracks the types and amounts of waste disposed and recyclables processed and implements a comprehensive education program for the management of solid waste and waste reduction and recycling.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.