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Seminole, Pinellas Park earn praise for environmentally friendly designs

Seminole’s public works buildings use solar power to return more power to the grid than they use. 

Special to the Times

Seminole’s public works buildings use solar power to return more power to the grid than they use. 

Two south Pinellas cities have won awards for environmentally friendly designs.

The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification to Seminole's public works operations building and gold LEED certification to its public works administration building. The two, located across the street from each other in the 11000 block of 70th Avenue N, were built in 2009 for about $5.5 million using Penny for Pinellas money.

The operations building is the first building in Pinellas to receive platinum LEED certification and the only platinum-certified municipal project in the state, Seminole City Manager Frank Edmunds said. There are only four other platinum-certified projects in Florida.

Seminole's public works buildings are designed to withstand severe hurricanes and act as the city's command center and shelters for firefighters during such storms. They are solar-powered and already are returning more power to the grid than they use, which reduces the city's costs and its carbon footprint.

"Aside from this recognition, our focus on sustainability is good for our local government, saving resources and funds that may be used for other purposes," Edmunds said.

The American Public Works Association has awarded Pinellas Park its Technical Management & Innovation Award for the environmentally friendly parking lot at the city's Performing Arts Center, 4951 78th Ave. N. The recently completed lot, which cost about $829,000, has attracted visits from officials from other cities, engineers, designers and architects interested in seeing how the system works.

The lot is at the southeastern end of Pinellas Park's City Hall complex, a low-lying area prone to flooding. City spokesman Tim Caddell said the situation was so bad that when AAA had a travel show at the center during a rainstorm, the auto club had to tow people out of the parking lot.

Just paving over the lot would have made the situation worse elsewhere on the property, Caddell said, so Pinellas Park had to come up with an innovative design to get permits to fix the situation. The system has a substrate that helps drain rainwater from open pavers so it can percolate back into the water table rather than run off or pool and then evaporate later.

"It's pretty cool," Caddell said. "We think we may be the first in the state (to use the system). We're certainly the largest project in the state …. We've been getting a lot of compliments."

The Green Building Council oversees LEED certification, which provides independent, third-party verification that a building project meets the highest green building and performance measures.

Reach Anne Lindberg at alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450.

FAST FACTS

Green designations

The Green Building Council's website, usgbc.org, says that LEED-certified buildings are designed to:

• Lower operating costs and increase asset value.

• Reduce waste sent to landfills.

• Conserve energy and water.

• Be healthier and safer for occupants.

• Reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

• Qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives in hundreds of cities.

• Demonstrate an owner's commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

Seminole, Pinellas Park earn praise for environmentally friendly designs 03/08/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 3:59pm]
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