Earth Watch: Manatee County Environmental Award

Manatee county sets the bar high when it comes to going green. For three years the Central Energy Plant in Bradenton uses cold water to cool the county government buildings through an underground piping network.
"The chill water pipes run under the streets of Downtown Bradenton to the Library, the Property Appraiser's Office, the Administration Building. It's been an enormous dollar saver. The energy systems are self-supportive here," said David Thompson Building Services Division Manager.
Facilities like the Central Energy Plant helped them earn a top honor for the Florida Green Building Coalition. In 2017 Manatee county became the first county government in the state to become Platinum certified.
"We went from Silver to Gold to Platinum, and it's just been a wonderful ride, Thompson said.
"I'm really excited about this, I'm really proud of this project.  Any county can do it, it's really exciting. It made me look at some of the things we've done," said Michelle Powers Sustainability Coordinator for Manatee County.
Their landfill gas recovery Project provides energy for the county wastewater plant.
 "We have a fast rapid response vehicle on the island instead of an ambulance . It respond faster to calls. It doesn't not have to use as much fuel to get to the scene of accidents," said Powers.
"We have big belly solar trash cans that notify us when they're full, instead of having to drive out there," she explained.
Nine different departments and the local community helped to achieve the honor.
"The certification took about 15 months. I think it brings some transparency into what exactly sustainability and renewable energy mean to our county," said Powers.
"It's an economic driver for Manatee county. It's something we can share at conferences with other counties," said Thompson.