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St. Petersburg’s U.S. Geologic Survey Center Receives National Recognition

Tuesday, August 12, 2014   (0 Comments)
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The St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership is excited to announce that St. Petersburg’s Coastal and Marine Science Center has been recently named one of only three groups in the United States that has been recognized by the United States Geological Survey for energy conservation. The USGS Environmental Achievement Award (EAA) / Good Neighbor Award for Greenhouse Gas reduction resulted from the successful collaborative efforts of the St. Petersburg USGS Center, the Southeast Companies and the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership. The two other USGS research centers that were recognized are located in Michigan and Missouri. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Sci­ence Center, located in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida is part of the C.W. Bill Young Marine Science Complex, which includes USF’s College of Marine Science, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, National Marine Fisheries Service, Florida Institute for Oceanography, SRI International and other scientific organizations. The USGS strives to implement sustainable business practices in compliance with environmental laws and regulations. Although the St. Petersburg Sci­ence Center is a fully-leased and serviced facility, not under direct USGS control, a strong working partnership including the USGS, the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership and the Southeast Companies, has provided opportunities to substantially reduce facility emissions over the last several years.

Notable environmental and financial benefits have resulted from this partnership. Reduced Greenhouse Gas emissions from the facility helps the Center address USGS policy on responsible environmental and financial stewardship. In addition, Southeast Companies has realized significant cost advantages in the form of reduced utility costs, despite rising utility rates. Overall, electricity demand has dropped 13% since 2008 with a discernible drop between FY12 and FY13. This recent decline in electricity represents the impact from innovative solutions in building maintenance, including: installation of window awnings, extension of chilled water to air handlers on the firstfloor of the historic Studebaker Building, and the phased replacement of T-12 fluorescent ballasts with LED lighting. Also of note, the addition of solar collectors to reheat HVAC chilled water has contributed to an astounding seventy-two percent reduction in gas use. Between 2007 and 2013—solar tubes went online in 2011—the annual cost of gas has gone from $5,087 to $1,417.

These sustainable business efforts serve as an excellent example of successful “green” business operations with cost-saving advantages. In a recent statement to the membership of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, CEO Peter Betzer, stated, “I am excited our Downtown Partnership was an integral part of an effort that is being recognized nationally for this innovative program to conserve energy.”

The USGS Environmental Achievement Award recognizes individual employees and teams as well as USGS and Department partners who have attained exceptional environmental achievements. Significantly, the St. Petersburg collaborative team is also being considered by the Department of Interior (DOI) for an Environmental Achievement Award.  If chosen for the DOI EAA award, a formal awards ceremony and reception will be held in May 2015 at USGS headquarters in Reston, Virginia.

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