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On Earth Day Dane County Executive Parisi Highlights Wisconsin’s Largest Municipal Solar Project on New Green Campus

April 22, 2016
Stephanie Miller 608-267-8823
County Executive

Dane County’s East District Campus Boosts Net Zero Energy From Many Green Features: Solar, Renewable BioCNG, Waste Heat, Passive Lighting


MADISON- Dane County Executive Joe Parisi was joined by Tyler Huebner from  RENEW Wisconsin and representatives from Clean Wisconsin, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Staff Electric, Camosy Construction and Sustainable Engineering Group to highlight the new green Dane County East District Campus that will help combat climate change. Due to the County’s investment in solar, renewable compressed natural gas, waste heat recycling and passive solar lighting, Dane County’s new “net zero-energy” highway garage will create more green energy than the building uses. This will be the largest municipally owned solar project in Wisconsin.


“As we build new county facilities we have been focused on making them as green as possible to help address climate change and save taxpayers operating costs,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Our highway facility will produce more energy than it uses. This is a truly state of the art facility that will benefit our environment while improving service for the Dane County taxpayers. ”


Dane County’s new East District Campus is home to two new facilities: a new highway complex to serve the eastern half of the county along with the new headquarters for the Dane County Medical Examiner to coordinate death investigations for cases from across the region.  The Highway facility was publicly opened today and the Medical Examiners Complex will open later this summer. This project created 376 green construction jobs. The total construction cost for the project was around $27 million. With close access to the Beltline and Interstate, the new highway garage improves services to the eastern parts of Dane County.  It consolidates two existing highway facilities and reduces operating costs.  The county had been paying over $120,000 per year to rent space for highway trucks in Sun Prairie.


East District Highway Facility

The highway building is approximately 84,000 square feet providing storage for nearly 70 vehicles, routine maintenance, parts storage, offices and locker rooms for the Dane County Highway Department. It will house the county’s fleet of snow plows that run on compressed natural gas, powered by gas naturally occurring at the landfill across the road.


Solar and Passive Lighting

Until now, Dane County Regional Airport’s 100 KW rooftop solar array was the state’s largest municipally-owned solar project. This project of 222 KW triples Dane County’s  installed solar generating capacity. 


The solar at the Dane County District Campus East will contain 816 solar panels.  The facility also contains passive and LED lighting that will help to reduce the electricity use.


 Landfill Waste Into Heat Power

Dane County has one of the most environmentally innovative landfills in the nation. The landfill currently generates $3.3 million in electricity annually that is purchased by MGE, enough to power 4,000 homes. Heat produced by the electrical generation process will be piped under the highway to heat the new East District Campus buildings. Methane from the landfill being burned to generate electricity would otherwise be a very potent greenhouse gas contributor to global climate change (84 times more potent than CO2). 


Dane County is the first in the nation to install technology to capture carbon dioxide the leading cause of climate change from its landfill. The technology, once fully installed, is projected to reduce up to 59,000 tons of CO2 emitted annually by the landfill which is the equivalent of taking 10,000 cars off the road.


Clean Fuel, Cleaner Air 

The highway garage will also use the compressed natural gas from the landfill to run the fleet and have a filing station onsite. The landfill turns decaying trash into cleaner, cheaper, homegrown compressed natural gas that powers more than 40 vehicles in the county fleet.


The county’s new fleet of snowplows fueled by renewable compressed natural gas (BioCNG) will be housed at this new highway garage. The BioCNG filling station previously located at the landfill across the road was moved to this site, and the county will use it to produce even more BioCNG vehicle fuel from garbage gas.


Because BioCNG burns so cleanly, natural gas vehicles cost less to maintain as well.  BioCNG vehicles show significantly less engine wear, spark plugs last longer, and oil changes are needed less frequently. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, BioCNG has the lowest climate change emissions of any vehicle fuel being sold today – even lower greenhouse gas emissions than regular CNG because there is no need to drill for natural gas.  It’s use as a transportation fuel represents an 88% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline and diesel fuel. 


Thanks to money Parisi included in recent county budgets, the new highway garage will also feature a BioCNG filling and storage station with the ability to produce 250 gallons equivalent of clean fuel every day.



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