Countywide sustainability policy to be implemented

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Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato today will sign into law a broad energy conservation policy to improve efficiency and cut wasteful spending in all county government operations.

The new Sustainabilty Policy for Allegheny County will affect all aspects of county government operations from vehicle fleet management to building maintenance and recycling in county facilities.

"We are now setting into place a new county policy on green initiatives that are now an essential aspect of good government," said Mr. Onorato. A key aspect of the new policy, he said, is the creation of an advisory committee that will assist the county in developing and maintaining "green government" practices.

The new policy is the brainchild of the Green Action Team, which Mr. Onorato created last year as part of his Allegheny Green Initiative to identify ways to reduce the county's ecological footprint.

Since then, the county has implemented a series of energy conservation projects that range from new lighting fixtures at the county jail to a rooftop garden on the County Office Building and a plan to help all municipalities conduct energy audits in their facilities.

By implementing a specific policy on "green practices," Mr. Onorato said, the county is setting a benchmark for energy conservation practices in all aspects of government.

Mr. Onorato said counties in major metropolitan areas like Chicago, New York City, Portland, Seattle and Cleveland already have similar policies.

Among the key provisions of Allegheny County's policy is the requirement to implement a consistent recycling program in its buildings and parks; to conduct an annual green jobs forum; and to achieve a minimum of LEED certification for any new construction or major renovation of county facilities exceeding 35,000 square feet.

In addition, Mr. Onorato's policy also calls for a 20 percent reduction of overall energy consumption; a 20 percent increase in water efficiency; and a 20 percent decrease in greenhouse emissions over the next five years.

The plan also calls for reducing the emissions of the county's vehicle fleet and motorized equipment by 5 percent annually and increasing conversion to technologies that produce higher efficiency over the next five years.

To that end, the county has already floated three Requests For Proposals: for a company to construct a rooftop garden on the County Office Building; to hire an energy savings consultant for the county; and to conduct an energy audit of the county's 20 biggest buildings, said Jeaneen Zappa, the county's sustainability manager.

County officials, who could not estimate the cost of implementation of the new policy yesterday, said they expect it to pay for itself through energy savings.

"Going forward, these are the kinds of policies we need to make government efficient and effective," said Mr. Onorato.


Karamagi Rujumba can be reached at krujumba@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1719.


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