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If you’ve seen the temporary fencing and heard the sound of heavy equipment around the County Government Center in downtown San Bernardino in recent weeks, you’ve witnessed County Government’s latest effort to spruce up its portion of the city and use natural resources more wisely in the years ahead.
The water-guzzling lawns, shrubs and distressed trees on the west, north and east sides of the County Government Center will be replaced with drought-tolerant plants, walking paths, and seating areas. Healthy trees, including the signature Canary Island date palms, will be preserved, as will the water-wise recirculating fountain in front of the Government Center. Work began in August and is scheduled to continue through December.
“This is an exciting and very important project,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos. “Everyone has a responsibility to use our natural resources wisely, and County Government is taking the lead by creating what will be a beautiful drought-resistant landscaping project in the heart of downtown San Bernardino.”
The landscaping around the County Government Center hasn’t been updated since the building was designed and constructed in the mid-1980s, a time when lush green lawns were still the norm despite the tremendous amount of water needed to maintain them.
Decades of trying to survive in San Bernardino’s summer climate eventually took their toll on some of the tall, non-native trees surrounding the County Government Center and rendered them ill. Their removal as part of the landscaping project has already opened up views of the property. A long-needed trimming of the remaining healthy trees has also improved the look of the Government Center early in the project.
Responding to service calls throughout San Bernardino County’s vast 20,000 square miles is a challenge when it comes to maintaining County buildings. A mechanical or air conditioning failure in one building in a remote location could take hours of staff time and gallons of fuel to travel to different sites.
To make the County and its buildings more sustainable and energy efficient, Facilities Management along with the County’s Project Management Division and Information Services Department teamed up with Siemens Building Automation Systems to automate and improve our systems.
First, old systems were upgraded to the latest in technology and then the Siemens Building Automation System was connected to the County’s network to keep costs down. Building automation, lighting, power, and water treatment equipment from different manufacturers were integrated and could be controlled off-site with iPads and other solutions. As a result, there has been a significant savings for taxpayers.
In the first two years:
- More than $150,000 in energy and natural gas savings through more efficient operations
- $53,460 in lowered payroll costs by reducing overtime hours by 1,320
- $18,480 in savings through a reduction in fuel consumption of 2,933 gallons
- Total savings of $222,120 were realized, which dramatically improved customer service
The County is also minimizing its impact on the environment by driving less. Over two years, field technicians traveled 26,400 fewer miles, resulting in significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
To read more about this example of Government Works, click here.