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Site Tours – May 19, 2012

Bedford Public Library

Surprisingly, we learned the Bedford Public Library of Bedford, Texas, was an old Food Lion grocery store in the past, explained to us by Maria Redburn, Library Manager.  You honestly would never believe it, by looking at the new renovations.  The adaptive reuse of the building is impressive.  The sustainable elements applied to the building have lowered their energy costs by 50 percent.

The City of Bedford did use an outside firm for their grant writing.  As a result, the library acquired a number of grants to assist with the installation of solar panels, reflective roofing, geo-thermal wells, low E glass, insulation and energy-efficient lighting throughout the 40,000 square foot library.

The decision to make the library more environmentally efficient was more of business decision and not a green decision.  Due to the recession and government cutbacks, the budget for the library was decreased; therefore they had to find cost-cutting methods to continue on.  With the new updates, their energy bills have decreased $20,000 annually.  As a result, there are two-fold benefits, the library will not need to decrease staffing and future energy consumption will have decreased.

Another cost saving method, was in the purchase in of automatic sorter for library materials once they have been returned.  The sorter scans the item and sends it to a specific bin, where the library staff can easily stack the materials on the shelf, without using more time to sort.  The cost of the sorter was half a million dollars, however it will pay for itself within 7 years, explained Ms. Redburn.

Bedford Library Automatic Sorter

I surmised if other government municipalities use the Bedford Library as a model to approach decreasing budgets, they will be able to save not only libraries, but many other programs that are usually the first to go in a budget crisis, such as education, teachers, and music & arts programs.

Recycle Revolution

Recycle Revolution began with a visionary, Mr. Eddie Lott, founder.  Recycle Revolution (RR) is located near downtown Dallas Texas and provides recycling, compost and solid waste programs for their growing clientele.  RR collects and ships recyclable items.  They have two loading trucks and a staff of twelve that are all committed to being environmentally conscious.

Foster a culture of recycling in North Texas, provide outstanding service to businesses that care, and use our success to rally for the causes of good neighborhoodship and environmental awareness.
– Recycle Revolution Mission Statement

Recycle Revolution accept paper, plastic, aluminum, cardboard, glass, electronics and small appliances.    Eddie explains glass has a very low commodity here in North Texas and their best value is hard white paper; $300 for a ton.  This is good in the recycling world.   In contrast, newspaper has a very low value.   Hard to believe Styrofoam is accepted as well.  RR has a client who will use the melted down Styrofoam mixed with other components to create a product to use to make Dome homes;  a much better use, than sitting in landfills for thousands of years.

Eddie, explained to us about another environmental program called the Dallas Eco-Op, where there are number of vendors providing eco-friendly services which others are need of. The Eco-Op offers education and local jobs.  In turn, the vendors have a financial gain, with the goods and services they provide.

Programs such as the Eco-Op and Recycle Revolution actually brought home to me, how I can contribute more to being green than just tossing my cans and bottles in my green recycle bin.  I learned we can all Reduce, Reuse and Recycle many items in our homes, if we take a few extra steps in our daily lives.

The Omni Hotel Fort Worth

We visited the Omni Hotel in Fort Worth, Texas.  Mike Davis, Assistant Director of Engineering led the tour. We first stopped in engineering, where Mike showed us the program used by the Omni to electronically control the heating and cooling throughout the hotel.  They try to stay within the parameters of 68 degrees Fahrenheit to 78 degrees Fahrenheit, depending upon room occupancy and time of day.

We then were guided to what is called the Chiller Room.  Housed in the chiller room is the piping for the water flow throughout the hotel.  They are 3 chiller and cooler towers which utilize hydro-electric controls that are on timers.

Our last stop was the beautiful rooftop garden.   There was a broad assortment of plants and a vegetable garden.  The garden provided not only a way for the chef to serve the freshest vegetables, but is was also aesthetically appealing and guests were taking advantage of this by having a nice, peaceful stroll through the garden. I learned, not only can sustainability be eco-friendly it can be beautiful.

The Tarrant Regional Water District

Tarrant Regional Water District

Laura Blalock of the Tarrant Regional Water District guided the tour of their building on 808 East Northside Drive in Fort Worth, Texas which is honored in being a LEED Gold status building.   There were many elements which make the building sustainable, but most notable were the solar arrays. The solar arrays installation is what brought them to level of Gold Standard.  At the completion of the install, the Tarrant Regional Water District had the largest solar array install in the state of Texas until the Veteran’s Administration Building in Dallas completed their install.

The other elements which achieves the building’s sustainability are:
Solar panels, grid-tied
Hydro-Electric Turbines
Double Pane Low-E Glass
Fluorescent Lighting
Concrete flooring and countertops
Cork Flooring
Austin Limestone
Furniture made with recyclable products
Open Cabling (ease to repair)
No VOC paint
Use of natural Beeswax, for countertop and floor cleaning

Moreover, the landscaping has drought-tolerant plants.  The shrubs are the only plants that are watered and this is through drip irrigation, which is supplied from two large rain barrels where water is collected throughout the year.

With the success of the Tarrant Regional Water District building, the City of Fort Worth has  adopted a policy that every new building renovation will now be a LEED building.

Overall, my feelings about all the visits have a cumulative effect.  I feel more passionate about being more eco-friendly and only hope I can continue with the program to learn more.   However if I cannot, I can take away from the experience with trying to be more vigilant at home and in in my local community with educating others and doing more reusing and recycling.

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