When you think of Reno, many things may come to mind. If you’re not from around here, Officer Dangle and Reno 911 are probably close to the top of your list (we know, the show is really funny). You might never guess that the City of Reno has invested significantly in environmental initiatives, but it has. In fact, it has done some amazing things to reduce its ecological (environmental) footprint, many of which save it money.
Reno City Hall has undergone an energy efficiency retrofit, which includes:
• Lighting systems
• Chiller/Tower replacement
• Boiler plant replacement
• Control systems
• Instant on hot water
Although this cost $6,404,790, it reduces operating costs from $4.54 to $2.54 per square foot! There’s also a wind turbine atop City Hall, as you can see above.
Now, on to our tour.
Kevin Dick, Director of the Washoe County Air Quality Management Division “stood in” for Jason Geddes, Environmental Services Administrator of the City of Reno (who was attending UNR Graduation), by leading our tour. Before the GreenUP Tour De’ Green, I wasn’t aware of any of Reno’s environmental initiatives (kinda like the recycling bins at the Reno Tahoe Airport).
Wherever you live, I bet you too will be surprised at just how green Reno is!
The City of Reno has two solar installations, one on top of the Reno Events Center and the other (shown here) on top of the Parking Gallery. This installation is a 30 kW roof mount PV system that cost $256,000 ($8.53/watt), about 77% of which becomes A/C power. The Parking Gallery installation doubles as a shade structure for vehicles parked up there on sunny days. The solar installation on top of the Events Center is a 180 kW roof-mounted system that cost $1.4 million ($7.80/watt).
The next environmental initiative Kevin showed us was the train trench, cleverly named ReTRAC, which, the City of Reno’s website states:[framed_box] . . . depressed over 2 miles of train track that run directly through Downtown Reno. A 54-foot wide, 33-foot deep train trench was built utilizing state-of-the art planning and construction processes.[/framed_box]
The environmental benefits of the train trench include reduced air and noise pollution and improved traffic and rail efficiency.
Of course no trip to Reno is complete without a visit to the Reno Arch, and the green government tour was no exception! The Reno Arch project replaced the 2,076 11-watt incandescent lamps with new highly energy efficient 2.5-watt LED bulbs. This results in a 70% energy savings $10,441 and 61,536 kWh annually. The city also is replacing its traffic lights with LED lights after having changed 2,800 downtown street lights to CFLs, which paid for itself in 11 months.
Reno also has 9 wind turbines in 4 locations, including 2 on the top floor of the Parking Gallery (shown here). The Parking Gallery solar panels and turbines provide 94% of the West Street Market’s energy needs. Reno also invested in a lighting retrofit for the Parking Gallery that includes photocell light censor controls for the outer lights, which paid for itself in 10 months. Cooler still (no pun intended), the folks at Artown contributed are to and below the Parking Gallery turbines.
Kevin also showed us the City’s new Green Energy Dashboard, which allows anyone with a computer to monitor real-time output of the city’s solar and wind installations. In September, 2010 the National Resources Defense Council named Reno among the 22 Smarter Cities for their investment in green power, energy efficiency and conservation (who knew?!).
Overall, Reno has invested $20,000,000 in energy efficiency and renewable energy, which saves the city $1,300,000/year and 10,985,642 kWh/year in energy savings. Through its environmental initiatives, the city also has eliminated 19,873,547 lbs. of Carbon Dioxide (Co2) and saved 7,877,000 gallons of water annually. Better still, Reno’s environmental responsibility also had a social benefit in that it created 279 jobs.
Go Reno, Go Green, Go!