For the past few years Onondaga County has dramatically changed course with a focus on green projects. The Legislature made an important decision a few years ago to abandon the "gray infrastructure" which involved building an expensive wastewater treatment plant to adopt the "green" philosophy.
By adopting this strategy, the County has saved approximately 20 million dollars in capital costs alone. Furthermore, the County was honored by being named one of the Environmental Protection Agency's top ten green communities. That is national recognition for the work we are doing in this area to promote green infrastructure. While the lake clean up has been the focus of the green projects, we have invested in projects all around the county as well. In 2009 solar energy panels were installed at the Beaver Lake Nature Center with grant funds from NYSERDA. This project has proven to be an educational piece at the nature center, teaching patrons the advantages to solar energy over fossil fuel. The Jamesville Correctional Facility was in need of a new roof in 2009. Onondaga County took an opportunity with this project to observe the various types of "green" roof options. Also known as "living roofs", green roofs serve several purposes for a building, such as absorbing rainwater, providing insulation, creating a habitat for wildlife, and helping to lower urban air temperatures. The correctional facility's roof is comprised of four housing modules that are small in size, and identical in shape and orientation. This gave us a great opportunity to experiment with the best options for future projects.
The advantages of a green roof or living roof are energy savings, extended life of the roof, and storm water management. With our new found knowledge of green projects and their benefits, the Onondaga County Convention Center will soon be home to one of the largest green roofs in the Northeast. The roof is 60,000 square feet and will capture over 1,000,000 gallons of rainfall annually. That is 1,000,000 gallons of rainwater that will not go through the sewer system to be treated.