Richland County is setting a course toward a greener future with new policies to increase energy efficiency and, in turn, reduce operations costs.
Two policies recently adopted by County Council will, among other things, ensure new and renovated County buildings meet certain energy standards and County vehicles move toward more clean fuel alternatives. The policies, adopted in July, are viewed as necessary actions to position the County as a local government leader in sustainability practices.
“At Richland County, sustainability is a critical component of a smart business strategy,” said Richland County Council Chair Norman Jackson. “As local governments face rising energy costs, we must learn to adapt and stay ahead of the curve. These policies are a first step in moving the County forward.”
The high performance building policy will require Energy Star design standards for new construction and renovations of Richland County facilities more than 5,000 square feet. The policy also calls for a consideration of “lifecycle costs” in designing for energy and water needs.
In addition to the price tag to construct or renovate a building, lifecycle costs take into account the cost to own, operate and maintain a building. The County can better determine the most cost-effective alternative when the total costs, measured over the lifespan of the proposed project, are considered.
“High performance buildings are no-brainers for government facilities,” said Anna Lange, the County’s Sustainability Manager. “They allow us to reduce the cost of doing business, and ensure that we are preserving the environment in a meaningful way.”
The “greening” of County facilities offers immediate and long-term benefits:
• Consume fewer resources
• Create less pollution
• Provide a healthier environment for occupants
County Council also passed a comprehensive sustainability policy outlining commitments to reducing waste and energy, and assessing the County fleet for clean fuel alternatives. The policy states the County will seek “to attain and maintain a state of leadership in the State of South Carolina as an environmental steward that strives to proactively and effectively manage its impact on energy, water and other natural resources.”
The County’s sustainability office seeks to provide innovative solutions to decrease energy demand through energy efficiency and conservation, create livable sustainable communities, reduce waste, increase fuel efficiency and promote a green economy.