by Jim Ball
In my book, Global Warming and the Risen LORD, I talk about a near-zero energy home built in 1998 in a subdivision of Lakeland, FL in cooperation with the Department of Energy (DOE). I highlighted this project to show that over a decade ago we had the capacity to build such houses.
Now comes word that another pioneering effort in Lakeland, this time the state of Florida's first net-zero commercial building, a branch of one of the local credit unions called Magnify. This credit union building has just won an award from the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC). Bud DeFlaviis, Executive Director of SBIC, said that the award committee "was thoroughly impressed with Magnify Credit Union," and that its building and commitment "should serve as an example for other communities to follow."
As the term "net-zero" implies, over the course of a year Magnify's building will not consume any more energy than it produces. Indeed, not only is Magnify's building net-zero, it will actually produce more energy than it consumes during the year. Solar panels on the roof, a highly efficient design, and Energy Star (or efficient) appliances make the difference. In October of last year, for instance, 45% of the electricity being produced by the solar panels was being put back on the grid and being sold back to their electric utility (according to a ClimateWire story).
This medium-size credit union has shown what's possible when people make a commitment to do so. "Our goal is to educate the community," said John Santarpia, Magnify's President and CEO.
The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President of EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.
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