Reducing Our Footprint
Buncombe County has a number of programs and initiatives in place to help reduce our footprint and save taxpayer dollars. Here are just a few of those programs...
Aluminum: Buncombe County’s Department of Facilities Management has recycled over 2,500 lbs of building related aluminum --fan blades, shelving supports, signs and construction scrap. It takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminum into new aluminum products than to produce it from raw materials.
Aluminum can recycling is known as "closed loop recycling". This means that it uses 100% post-consumer recycled aluminum to make more drink cans. 11.5 billion kilowatt hours of electricity are saved in one year by aluminum can recycling.
Steel: Steel is the most recycled material in the US.
Buncombe County Government has recycled over 12 tons of steel. It takes 60% less energy to produce new steel products using recycled steel.
Steel and aluminum have an endless life cycle. They lose none of their physical qualities when recycled.
Recycling metals such as steel, aluminum and copper not only help reduce our carbon footprint but also benefit taxpayers because the money received by the County for recycling these materials is returned to revenue which help fund our facilities and programs.
Approximately 40% of our landfill is made up of paper. By keeping that paper out of the landfill we save landfill space . Buncombe County Government, in partnership with a local recycler and recycles all mixed paper used by County departments.
It takes 40% less energy for a paper mill to use recycled paper to make paper products and reduces the water and air pollution associated with paper mills (water pollution by 34% and air pollution by 74%).
Much of the lighting in county buildings is fluorescent, but some fluorescent lights are more efficient than others. Buncombe County has been retrofitting the County’s older fluorescent fixtures with newer more efficient models.
In addition, where incandescent light bulbs are used, new more efficient CFL bulbs are being installed as replacements.
CFL(Compact Fluorescent Lamps) use up to 75% less energy than incandescent light bulbs and last 10 times longer. Each CFL prevents more than 450 lbs of green house gas emissions over its lifetime. That is the equivalent of not burning 210 lbs of coal.
The County has also been replacing many of its incandescently lit exit signs with more efficient LED lit signs.
Parking lot lighting is electronically controlled to reduce burn time.
Preventative maintenance is key to energy savings. Efficient running heating ventalation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems bring the greatest savings. Facilities management clean filters, grease pumps and motors and properly tentioned belts; all of which return utility dollars to the County and help reduce the amount of energy we use.
The County uses "Reflective Roof Systems" wherever possible. Reflective roofs use a white reflective material rather than the traditional black tar. This material can reduce cooling costs by up to 30% and reduce our energy usage at the same time.
All glass replacement is done with high-efficiency thermo-pane glass with automated environmental controls.
The Solid Waste Division of Buncombe County Government implemented the use of bio-diesel fuel for County vehicles that use diesel. With a grant of $29,655 from the State Energy Office through the NC Solar Center’s Alternative Fuel Incentive Project, the County purchased a retention tank and dispensing pump.
All County-run ambulances, landfill machinery and other diesel-run vehicles now run on B-20, a form of bio-diesel fuel. The result is a 20 percent reduction in the County government’s dependence on fossil fuels with every gallon pumped. It also means that all County vehicles will have an adequate supply of fuel in times of emergency.
Bio-diesel is a cleaner burning diesel replacement fuel made from natural, renewable sources such as new and used vegetable oils and animals fats. B-20 is 20% biodiesel/80% diesel and reduces emissions of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide up to 20 percent. Bio-diesel is domestically produced thereby helping reduce the nation’s dependence on imported oil and helping to boost the agricultural sector of the economy.
Ever heard of the Buncombe Biodigester? Thanks to its work, the County may have built its last landfill. Years ago, there were several landfills around Buncombe County. These landfills are now closed.
In 1997 when the County opened the existing landfill on Panther Branch Road in North Asheville, they installed "green" technology called a Bioreactor that digests garbage at an accelerated rate. On its own, the material in the landfill might take 50 years to decompose. With the biodigester, it will only take 15 years.
This means that the County will gain much more space for new material in the future, making this possibly the last landfill sited in the County. Combined with other conservation efforts and the methane gas recovery project, the County landfill is definitely growing green.
For more information, check out the Buncombe Bioreactor website or call 250-5460.
Buncombe County has a state of the art landfill gas-to-energy project that generates power and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and create a safer, cleaner landfill.
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