Over the last year, the Greensboro Fire Department has added a touch of green to go along with its bright red trucks. North Carolina-based Southern Energy Management (SEM) has equipped six existing facilities and two new fire stations that are still under construction with new solar thermal water heating systems. The rooftop additions are part of a larger environmental sustainability effort that the city has been implementing for several years, and Greensboro recently passed a Sustainability Action Plan, further reinforcing that commitment.
"Solar water heating was a great fit for the fire department in Greensboro," SEM co-founder Bob Kingery said. "Firefighters living in these stations 24 hours a day tend to use a lot of hot water, and these solar collectors help offset the cost of heating that water and reduce the city's carbon footprint at the same time."
Station 57, which is being built by Hodgin Construction, and Station 61, being built by Brooks General Contractors, will be ready to come online within the next two months. Pepco Energy was the general contractor for the existing buildings that already have solar water heating systems up and running; they include Fire Stations 2, 5, 17, 21 and 43 along with the Public Safety Training Facility, which is shared by the Fire Department and the Police Department.
SEM installed all of the systems, along with one more with Pepco Energy on the roof of Greensboro's city hall, the Melvin Municipal Office Building (MMOB). Each installation includes two, three or four solar thermal collectors which pre-heat water that is sent to existing hot water storage tanks, lessening the need for traditional electric- or natural gas-heated hot water tanks.
These solar systems are part of a larger initiative for Greensboro. With its Sustainability Action Plan, the city is hoping to invest in a diverse array of solar options in the coming years. Greensboro intends to install solar photovoltaic modules to produce electricity, along with additional solar thermal water heating systems. The plan also calls for increased energy efficiency and green building practices in municipal buildings.
SEM has also installed solar thermal water heating systems for a range of other public and municipal clients, including North Carolina State University, Western Carolina University, the City of Raleigh, the North Carolina Department of Transportation and others.
About Southern Energy Management
Southern Energy Management (southern-energy.com) is a North Carolina-based sustainable energy company offering energy efficiency, green building and turn-key solar services for homeowners, builders, companies, government and military clients across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. A certified B Corp, SEM's mission is to have a measurable impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, and to build a sustainable triple-bottom-line company. SEM was founded in a living room in Raleigh in 2001, and now employs a team of more than 90 sustainable energy professionals. SEM is consistently recognized as an industry leader both locally and nationally, and is among a small handful of companies in the U.S. to earn the National Energy Star Partner of the Year award five times (in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 & 2011). SEM also received the 2010 Green Jobs Award from SJF Institute & Green For All and the 2009 City of Raleigh Market Transformation Award.