Downtown St. Pete boasts new, 'net-zero' building - FOX 13 News

Downtown St. Pete boasts new, 'net-zero' building

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

St. Petersburg's newest commercial office space features one desirable attribute:  An electric meter that runs two directions, depending on whether the building is buying or selling electricity.  

The structure at the corner of Central Avenue and 20th Street is "net zero energy," meaning it can produce as much or more energy than it consumes.  The anchor tenant is a well-known environmental organization. 

"This is going to be our state headquarters for staff and volunteers of the Sierra Club, who are going to be working to move this sunshine state beyond coal and oil," said Mary Anne Hitt, of West Virginia, who directs a national "Beyond Coal" campaign: "Real examples matter...you're showing people we can do it here and now."

Building and systems designer Henry Hart said the efficiencies for net zero energy start with a very tight and well-insulated building.  Giant arrays of solar panels produce power, while tankless hot water and geo-thermal air conditioning reduce demand.  A rainwater capture system leads to a 1,000 gallon storage tank.  That water is for irrigation and "The toilets are actually going to be tied into the harvesting of the rainwater" Hart said, "So we will use rainwater to flush toilets."

Roundhouse Creative Studio and Big Sea Design and Development are the other tenants of the building.  They were originally attracted to the idea of no power bill, but have since spotted another marketing edge. 

"I think companies with missions that take the environment into consideration, this will matter to them," said Roundhouse's Andrew Lee.

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