Businesses making changes to reduce costs and waste; use sustainable energy
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Larry Paruszkiewicz, director of building and technology services for Gateway Technical College’s Elkhorn and Burlington campuses, stands in front of solar panels, installed last year on the Elkhorn campus. The system heats a health career wing, bathrooms and a science lab in one of the buildings, and data from the system is used by students in Gateway’s green energy career programs. Terry Mayer/staff.
ELKHORN — Attendees at last month’s EcoFair360 who drove hybrid vehicles got free parking on site at the Walworth County Fairgrounds, and the number of Nissans, Hondas and Toyotas in the section didn’t surprise Peg Esposito, marketing director for the Eco-Vision Sustainable Learning Center in Delavan, which sponsored the fair.
“We were preaching to the choir,” she said, chuckling.
EcoFair360’s attendance reflects to some degree the current state of green in Walworth County: small numbers with some serious interest and slow but sustained growth.
“We find, quite honestly, that clients come to us because they’re curious,” said Jeff Auberger, president and founder of Preservation Homes-Conservation Development, an Energy Star-certified builder in Elkhorn.
“The typical response has been, ‘I want to build green, but I don’t want to spend any more money,’” he said. “That’s a good first step. We tease people by saying, ‘When you build with us, it’s not a matter of your building green, but what shade of green.’”
In seven years, the company has built 35 homes. In 2009, Preservation Homes constructed eight homes, and so far this year, has completed five.
Various credit and incentive programs can take the edge off of the expense of going green.
Larry Paruszkiewicz, director of facilities at Gateway’s Elkhorn and Burlington campuses, said the college used a Focus on Energy program to help pay for the $15,000 solar heating system at the Elkhorn campus. The system is expected to pay for itself in seven years.
The photovoltaic panels behind the North Building heat water that runs through underground pipes and is used to heat a renovated health wing, a science lab and several bathrooms in the building.
The system is part of a comprehensive plan to gradually “green” Gateway that includes everything from using more environmentally friendly cleaners to installing energy-efficient lighting.
Read the full story in the Aug. 8, 2010 e-edition of Walworth County Sunday, HERE.