When Mayor Doug Echols signed the U.S. Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement last year, he said that "we, as a city, are going to do everything we can" to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. We hope that includes building a new city operations center that qualifies for certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
City officials, after two years of searching, now believe they have found a suitable site for the operations center. The building would be situated on 32 acres of wooded land near Albright and Anderson roads on the southeast side of the city.
The current operations center, which the city has outgrown, is located next to Winthrop University. The new center will house offices for the Utilities Department, a staging area for construction equipment, a police impound lot and maintenance garages.
Because this will entail all new construction, the city has a golden opportunity to make the building as environmentally friendly and energy efficient as current technology will allow. Even if using green construction techniques might cost slightly more, energy savings are likely to offset those costs within a few years.
The city also needs to commit to building green simply because it's the responsible thing to do. Local governments no longer can afford to calculate the cost of a building merely in terms of material and construction expenses. They also have to consider the impact that building will have on the environment and the level at which it will contribute to pollution and global warming.
It should be clear by now that no single technology or other easy fix is on the horizon to reverse global warming and to allow us to painlessly reduce the greenhouse emissions that cause it. The only solution so far envisioned is a combination of individual and corporate efforts to reduce the carbon footprint wherever we can, and local governments must set an example.
Winthrop University already has shown the way. Its new $27 million Lois Rhame West Center became one of the first buildings in York County to get a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating. And the university set out to earn that rating from the start.
University officials said the process added about 2 percent to design costs and another 2 percent to 4 percent in construction costs. It also added about four months to the construction schedule. But Winthrop facilities manager Walter Hardin said the investment should pay for itself within 10 years in the form of lower heating and cooling bills and reduced electricity costs.
The city also needs to consider long-term heating, cooling and overall electricity costs. And if energy costs continue to rise, the payoff for building green could come sooner than expected.
We hope the city will honor its commitment to the U.S. Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement as it moves forward with construction of the operations center. This community should support city efforts to do not only what is economical but also what is responsible.
Rock Hill should commit to making new operations center a 'green' building.
What do you think about this editorial? Come to community.heraldonline.com and tell us.