WaterMatters

District Focuses on Governor’s Green Initiative

When Governor Charlie Crist announced his Green Initiative this summer during the climate change summit in Miami, the District’s managers heard him loud and clear.

“The District is already a leader in water conservation,” said David Moore, District executive director. “Incorporating energy-efficient practices into the District’s day-to-day operations makes sense and fits into our focus on sustainable growth and environmental responsibility.”

The District’s goal is to meet or exceed the Governor’s expectations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions while serving as an example of smart, efficient and environmentally wise practices.

“The District is working with the Department of Environmental Protection and the other water management districts to coordinate and share ideas,” said Eugene Schiller, deputy executive director for the Division of Management Services and executive sponsor for this initiative.

But the focus on energy efficiency and sustainability isn’t a new concept at the District. There are many examples of environmentally friendly practices the District had put into place long before the Governor’s initiative.

Fleet Efforts

The District’s Fleet Services Section is taking several steps to improve the efficiency of its vehicles.

In 2006, the District purchased three electric utility vehicles to replace fuel vehicles for on-campus transportation. The electric vehicles run completely on batteries, similar to a golf cart, and are used by the mailroom, material management and Information Resources Department employees. The battery takes only a few hours to charge and lasts for approximately 27 to 42 miles.

At the same time, the District also purchased six hybrid electric vehicles to use for staff transportation to and from different service offices and to off-site locations.

Hybrid electric vehicles operate on an integrated gas engine, electric motor and high-powered battery. The battery provides power for the electric motor and is recharged by recapturing energy that would normally be lost when decelerating or coasting. If needed, power from the gas engine can be diverted to recharge the battery as well. Therefore, these charging methods allow the hybrid electric cars to go without having to be plugged into a charging device.

Depending on the driver, the hybrid electric Ford Escape averages about 26–30 miles per gallon (mpg) and the Toyota Prius averages approximately 40–45 mpg.

“In addition to saving fuel, the hybrid electric cars allow the District to contribute to reducing emissions into the environment,” said Ralph Tack, District fleet services manager.

Tack is looking at replacing more of the District’s vehicles with hybrid and/or alternative fuel vehicles, particularly smaller vehicles that are primarily used by staff with limited cargo. In the near future, Tack will also be evaluating the potential for replacing half-ton trucks with hybrid and/or alternative fuel vehicles.

“Trucks over a half ton do not have an EPA rating, so we are concentrating on finding trucks and utility bodies that are made with lighter materials.”

Tack says that proper vehicle maintenance is the best way to improve the mileage of any vehicle, which leads to lower emissions. Simply maintaining the tires at the proper pressure will improve gas mileage. Tack says there is a new product that goes over the tire valve and changes color when you need to add air. He is considering testing some on the pool vehicles.

In addition, gas mileage can be improved by monitoring tire tread depth, using the proper motor oil, timely engine tune-ups and replacing the fuel, air and oil filters.

Recycling Efforts

The District currently recycles paper and cardboard at all service office locations. In Brooksville, the Land O’ Lakes Recycling Company provides the District with all of the recycling containers and picks up the paper and cardboard at no charge.

“One of the reasons we went with them is because they guarantee the paper will be recycled,” said Roberts. “The previous company we used didn’t make the same guarantee.”

According to Dick Hanville, administrative services manager, most office paper on the market is not 100 percent recycled content paper. In most cases, recycled paper contains either preconsumer or postconsumer content, which is mixed in with virgin material to make good quality recycled content paper that can be used successfully in a variety of business machines. All paper used in the District’s satellite copiers and business machines, and most of the paper used for copies in the District’s print shop, is recycled content paper. The District’s letterhead is also printed on recycled content paper.

The District also recycles aluminum cans at all four offices. The Employee Committee heads up this effort by collecting and selling the cans to a scrap metal recycler. The Employee Committee uses the money it generates from recycling for employee events.

Toner cartridges are recycled at the Brooksville Headquarters. The cartridges are collected and donated to a recycler who works with and contributes money to the Hernando County School System for use by the National Honor Society and other student activities.

The District is partnering with the Hernando County Recycling Division of the Utilities Department to recycle plastic water and soda bottles. They provide a container to the District for collecting plastic bottles and will pick them up on a regular basis for free.

Proper Disposal

Proper disposal of hazardous materials is also part of the Governor’s Green Initiative. Batteries and fluorescent light bulbs are considered hazardous materials. District facilities staff makes sure fluorescent light bulbs and automobile batteries are disposed of properly. They also encourage employees to send their smaller spent batteries to the Facilities and Construction Services Section for proper disposal.

In addition to these current practices and the practices being considered, Lloyd Roberts, general services director, and Mark Leytze, facilities and construction services manager, encourage District staff to contact them if they have any other suggestions.

“We’re open to any ideas employees may have,” said Leytze. “Whether it’s something small or something that sounds off the wall, it may turn out to be the next big energy saver.”

Facilities

The facilities staff is continually looking at ways the District can use less energy in existing buildings and in new construction.

Lloyd Roberts and Mark Leytze have joined the U.S. Green Building’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) group to learn more about the design standards for existing buildings and new construction. The District’s focus is on existing buildings since there are no plans for new construction in the near future.

Roberts and Leytze, along with Mike May, facilities and construction services supervisor, and Dave Orner, facilities and construction services project administrator, are reviewing the existing buildings to look for opportunities to lower the District’s emissions of greenhouse gases (CO2 emissions). For FY2006, based on kilowatt hours usage, the District’s four office locations accounted for 4,675 metric tons of indirect CO2 emissions. In an effort to reduce CO2 emissions, the team plans to review each building to determine what needs to be retrofitted by the end of 2008.

Here are some of the changes the District has already made, or is currently researching, to become more efficient:

Lighting Efficiency

All exit lights have been replaced with LEDs, which use less electricity and produce less heat.

The District has also changed out all standard light fixtures to a more efficient model. Our standard office light fixture has three 4-inch tubes. The old fixture used approximately 130 watts, while the new fixture uses approximately 83 watts. The savings in watts also leads to a savings of $11.76 per fixture per year, based on an eight-hour day for five days a week.

Motion sensors are also being installed in all hard-walled offices, meeting rooms, equipment rooms and restrooms where this application is practical.

Water-Use Efficiency

The District is in the process of replacing all manual faucets and toilets with sensor-activated fixtures.

Energy Efficiency

All heating and air conditioning units are being retrofitted or replaced with high efficiency models. In addition, variable frequency drives (VFDs) have been installed on all large pump and fan motors. VFDs help control the flow of either air (fans) or water (pumps). Using VFDs saves energy and reduces the motor-starting current by doing a soft start, which reduces the thermal and mechanical stresses on the motors.

Tinted or low-e windows can also help lower the need for air conditioning by keeping heat out. The District used low-e windows in the new Tampa Service Office, and District staff is researching tints for retrofit applications.

In addition to using motion sensors for plumbing and lighting fixtures, the District is researching other “smart building” technology, including automated controls for air conditioning, drinking fountains and more.

Other areas that are being investigated for potential savings include window and door seals, solar hot water heaters, solar parking lights and replacing older appliances with ENERGY STAR appliances.

November–December 2007
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