Carbon-Footprint Reduction

April 17, 2009
The FM team in Suffolk County in Long Island, NY, reduces the carbon footprint of its buildings

Location: Long Island, NY
County Size: 2,373 square miles
No. of Buildings: 500 (including park facilities)
Total Square Feet: 4.6 million

To control energy costs and the county’s carbon footprint, the Department of Public Works and Department of Environment and Energy have teamed up in Suffolk County, Long Island, NY. The first step was drafting a Clean Energy Action Plan. “We were actually the first municipality on Long Island to do that,” says Carrie Meek Gallagher, commissioner for Suffolk County’s Department of Environment and Energy. Created in 2005, this plan helped the county set clear goals and initiatives to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

As part of the plan to cut consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions, the county hired an energy manager to oversee energy audits and evaluate the payback of various energy-conservation strategies. “To reduce energy consumption at our facilities, [we have] implemented measures, such as installing energy-efficient light fixtures; occupancy sensors; high-efficiency air-conditioning systems; double-pane, low-E windows; state-of-the-art building-management systems; condensing gas-fired boilers; low-flow faucets and showerheads; waterless urinals; and photovoltaic solar panels,” explains Javed Ashraf, energy manager, Department of Public Works, Suffolk County. These initiatives have had a big impact. “Last year, we saved about $1.3 million,” says Meek Gallagher. The county expects that number to be closer to $1.8 million in 2009.

Energy-performance contracts, rebates, and grants have helped the county fund some of its most expensive energy-efficiency upgrades and projects.


To reduce your facilities’ carbon foot-print, start by increasing buildings’ energy efficiency. Next, consider on-site alternative power generation. Lastly, don’t forget to purchase energy from renewable sources.

In addition to energy-conservation and energy-efficiency measures, the county is installing solar panels at a number of its facilities. The police headquarters now has a 40 kW solar panel, and construction is under way on the new Suffolk County Police Department’s 4th Precinct building, which will be outfitted with a 50 kW photovoltaic solar system that generates 8 percent of the building’s electricity needs.

Purchasing green power is yet another way that the county hopes to reduce its carbon footprint, and county mandates demand that the Department of Public Works make significant strides by 2010. “Presently, 15 percent of our electric consumption is from renewal sources,” says Ashraf. “By the end of 2009, we plan to increase the energy from renewable sources to 25 percent.”

The results of these efforts are not only commendable, but sizeable. Just in one building, energy efficiency has been increased enough to reduce the facility’s carbon footprint by 9.2 million pounds, which is the equivalent to planting approximately 627,000 trees, or taking 905 cars off the road.

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