Make us your home page
Instagram

St. Petersburg's first 'net zero energy' commercial space set to open

Imagine your business' monthly electric bill arrives and it reads, "total cost: $0."

A 5,000-square-foot building under construction on St. Petersburg's Central Avenue is set to become the city's first commercial space to produce more of its own electricity than it will use from the power grid.

"This building is designed to be a net zero energy building," Tom Hall, whose firm All Florida Management is engineering and building the facility, said during a news conference Friday to showcase the building. "This is quite a big day for us."

The building sports a 40-kilowatt solar panel carport and will include a 50-kilowatt solar panel roof. The solar carport sits behind the building at the corner of Central Avenue and 20th Street.

In addition to solar energy, the building features a geothermal heating and air conditioning system and LED lighting, making it a certified green building.

"Obviously, this is the future," said Chris Steinocher, president and chief executive officer at the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. "If we turn a blind eye to the technology, we're going to be left behind on this."

The $545,000 solar project would help produce "net zero" electric usage because the 90-kilowatt system is expected to produce more electricity than the building will use.

The excess energy produced during the day would offset the cost of any electricity the building uses from the power grid at night.

Grants, including one from Progress Energy's SunSense Solar program, covered half of the cost of the solar project.

Brian Hartley, owner of the building, said he is negotiating with six to seven tenants in the "green industry" but has not finalized those agreements.

The project is part of an effort by the Farias Marketing Group, led by Mario Farias, and contractor Jeff Adams to increase solar power in St. Petersburg and throughout the state.

"This is basically a building that we want to highlight to show what can be done here," Farias said. "Solar is not a fad. It's here. It's going to stay."

Added Adams: "This is not pixie dust and magic. This is technology that people can use. This is real-world technology."

Farias and Adams have been courting a group of German businessmen to bring a solar manufacturing operation to the city that would create 150 jobs.

Germany is a global leader in the use of renewable energy, though the government recently announced cuts to solar power subsidies.

Even so, Germany installed 7.5 gigawatts (roughly the equivalent of seven nuclear reactors) of solar power in 2011, compared to 2.7 gigawatts in all of the United States during the same period, said Uwe Sterling, one of the German businessmen who attended Friday's news conference.

Standing under the solar panel-covered carport, Sterling said his partners are eager to bring the manufacturing operation to Florida, if those in Tallahassee would follow other states in establishing standards for renewable energy that would make it economical.

The St. Petersburg project, Sterling said, is just one example of the potential for solar power in Florida.

"I think this is the right way to do it," Sterling said. "If you think about your state … Florida, sunshine."

Ivan Penn can be reached at ipenn@tampabay.com or (722) 892-2332.

St. Petersburg's first 'net zero energy' commercial space set to open 05/11/12 [Last modified: Friday, May 11, 2012 9:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: Tampa Bay household income tops $50,000 but still makes us look poor

    Personal Finance

    The good news is Tampa Bay's median household income finally crawled above $50,000 last year. The bad news is that figure — officially $51,115 by new U.S. Census Bureau data — still puts the Tampa Bay region as the poorest of the nation's 25 largest metro areas.

    Tampa Bay still has the lowest median household income among the 25 most populous metro areas, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
[Times]
  2. Make-A-Wish Foundation aims to help more kids in Tampa Bay

    Health

    The Make-A-Wish Foundation is on the lookout for sick children in the Tampa Bay area who need a once-in-a-lifetime pick-me-up.

    Grace Savage, a 10-year-old girl with a chromosomal disorder made a trek to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium last year, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The foundation intends to beef up its presence in the Tampa Bay area after a reorganization. The region is now the responsibility of the foundation's Southern Florida chapter, one of the most active in the country, with more than 11,000 wishes granted so far. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times ]
  3. Florida hides details in nursing home reports. Federal agencies don't.

    Medicine

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott widened his offensive Thursday against the Broward nursing home he blames for the deaths of 10 residents by setting up a tip line for information, but when it comes to access to the inspection reports of all nursing homes, the governor's administration has heavily censored what the …

    In the foreground is a document detailing the findings of a Feb. 2016 inspection at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills obtained from a federal agency, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Behind it is the state?€™s version of the same document, from the Agency for Health Care Administration, showing how it has been redacted before being released to the public. [Miami Herald]
  4. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”
  5. Fewer Tampa Bay homeowners are underwater on their mortgages

    Real Estate

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages continues to drop. In the second quarter of this year, 10.2 percent of borrowers had negative equity compared to nearly 15 percent in the same period a year ago, CoreLogic reported Thursday. Nationally, 5.4 percent of all mortgaged homes were …

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages  continues to drop. [Times file photo]