Skaneateles Village officials have made a command decision in recent days to apply for a major state grant that would allow them to go beyond the environmentally friendly plans currently in the works for renovation of the new village hall and instead make the building a net-zero energy usage facility.
The building, in essence, would not only save taxpayer money through energy efficiency, it would nullify energy costs by having the building produce as much energy as it uses.
The decision to apply for the grant is the latest in a series of “green” ideas and decisions the steering committee for the new village hall has been working during the past few months.
“The more I learn about sustainable energy the more energized I get about wanting to do it right here,” said Trustee Jim Lanning, who also serves on the steering committee. “We’re working as hard as we can to achieve [the grant], but we may not; it’s not a guarantee at this point.”
The competitive grant is not a fixed dollar amount, but rather is awarded as a percentage of the total project cost based on the success of technologies and energy efficiencies utilized in the plans. It is given through the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, and would allow the village to pursue certain green technologies for the building that are too expensive to be otherwise included.
The two major components of the committee’s plans for the grant money are to build a solar panel array on the roof and to construct a geothermal heating system underground.
“This is a very good thing for the village,” said Bob Lotkowictz, director of village municipal operations. “If we can win the grant we will be able to demonstrate that the operations of this building will be net zero — what energy is used will be replaced by all the technology there, as well as reducing the carbon footprint of village operations. It will also demonstrate to the community that these things can be done locally — which is an outreach component of the grant — to show the public that these technologies are viable and are what people should be aiming for when they develop.”