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Gwinnett County Government engages in practices that reduce our impact and contribute to our environmentally sustainable future. Learn about some of these practices below.
A cool roof is designed to reflect more sunlight than a conventional roof, absorbing less solar energy. This lowers the temperature of the building. Conventional roofs can reach temperatures of 150°F or more on a sunny summer afternoon. Under the same conditions a reflective roof could stay more than 50°F cooler. This can save energy and money in buildings with air conditioning. Gwinnett County continues to have an active program for installing cool roofs on County facilities. We have installed 12 cool roofs on facilities around Gwinnett. Recent examples include the Duluth and Norcross branches of the Gwinnett County Public Library, which opened in 2021.
Building on Brownfields
A brownfield is a tract of land that has been developed for industrial or commercial purposes but is not currently in use. These sites are sometimes contaminated by the prior use. The County has remediated two previous brownfield sites and constructed facilities to make good use of the land. The Gwinnett County Fire Training Center driving training course is located on the former Gwinnett County Police Outdoor Firing Range. Lead and soil abatement were completed on the property prior to construction. Fire Station 15 is located on a site that formerly had petroleum contamination. The previous owner remediated the site prior to construction of the station.
Building on Greyfields
Greyfield land is underused real estate assets or land. The County has made great use of existing greyfield land for new facilities. Examples include the Gwinnett Entrepreneur Center, located in the renovated and converted building that once housed the Sheltering Arms Daycare facility, and Simpsonwood Park, which is the converted former Simpsonwood Methodist Church retreat site along the Chattahoochee River. Two more greyfield projects are underway. Recognizing its historic significance, the County acquired the old Hooper-Renwick school — the school for Black students enrolled in Gwinnett County Public Schools prior to desegregation — and will revitalize and expand it into a historic-themed library. Also in Lawrenceville, Gwinnett purchased an abandoned Ingles shopping center and is renovating and repurposing it into records management and emergency management storage facility.
Government Infill Development
Infill refers to the development of vacant parcels within previously built areas. These areas are already served by public infrastructure, such as transportation, water, wastewater, and other utilities. Gwinnett County has pursued serval infill development projects that resulted in, or will result in, County owned and operated facilities. Some recent examples include the new Duluth Branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library, which was constructed on the former site of Duluth’s Cricket Box Company in the downtown area. The library’s brick and arch design pays tribute to the former factory. The new library is in downtown Duluth’s mixed use, walkable city center. The new Norcross Branch Library is another example, constructed on the former site of a two-story shopping center and market located off Buford Highway. The new library and plaza were designed to integrate with Lillian Webb Park which is the city’s main park adjacent to its walkable downtown center. The library is surrounded by parks, residential, and commercial development. The Elizabeth Williams Branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library and Snellville Educational Space is being constructed on the former site of a post office and commercial office development. The new facility is located next to a mixed-use apartment-commercial development, known as the “Grove at Town Center,” and the city’s downtown open lawn area.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is one of the most popular green building certification programs used worldwide. Gwinnett County continues to encourage new construction for County facilities to be LEED certified at the Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum level. The following facilities are LEED certified, and many more are built to LEED standards.
- Gwinnett County Environmental and Heritage Center: Certified LEED Gold 2006
- Gwinnett County Police Training Facility: Certified LEED 2010
- Hamilton Mill Branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library: Certified LEED Gold 2010
- Gwinnett Senior Services Center: Certified LEED Gold 2012
- Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s Office and Morgue: Certified LEED March 2018
- Gwinnett County/City of Lilburn Branch Library and City Hall: Certified LEED May 2018
ENERGY STAR and EarthCraft
ENERGY STAR® is a national program from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. ENERGY STAR offers a comprehensive approach to reducing energy use and costs for new and existing homes, apartments, and commercial buildings while creating healthier, more comfortable spaces for their occupants. Gwinnett County continues to encourage government-owned building projects less than 5,000 square feet to be designed and certified to achieve ENERGY STAR in accordance with County policy.
Gwinnett County became an ENERGY STAR partner in 2009 and remains committed to the partnership with ENERGY STAR and adherence to the Gwinnett County Energy Efficiency Strategy. To date, the County has completed many of the objectives outlined in the strategy:
- Procured and implemented ENERGY Cap providing a utility usage record and reporting system and created a position to administer ENERGY Cap data records and reporting
- Implemented a Lights Out/Power Down Policy
- Identified specific needs and implemented energy efficiency projects and programs to address them, including implementing an Energy Audit Plan, a retro-commissioning program for key facilities, LED replacement program for traffic signals, and DWR’s digester gas to energy project
- Adopted LEED Certification Policy for new construction more than 5,000 square feet
Gwinnett County continues to encourage the purchase of ENERGY STAR equipment and appliances with ENERGY STAR ratings per guidelines specified in its Energy Star Policy for New Construction and Energy Star LEED Renovation policy. Four recently constructed or renovated facilities with ENERGY STAR equipment include the Lilburn Branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library, Fire Stations 10 and 31, and the Lawrenceville Senior Center.
Gwinnett County also encourages County building renovation projects to be ENERGY STAR certified or follow LEED guidelines in accordance with County policy. The list of notable renovation projects since 2014 includes the Buford Senior Services Center, Best Friend Park gymnasium, George Pierce Park gymnasium, Lilburn Activity Building, and more.
LED Light Bulb Program
Gwinnett County actively administers a program to replace incandescent, compact fluorescent, high pressure sodium, and fluorescent lights with more energy efficient LED lights. The County has implemented LED lighting conversions in several facilities, including Gwinnett County Fleet Management and the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, as well as along County roadways. As of early 2022, more than 15,000 roadway light fixtures have been converted.
The F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center continues to use excess methane gas produced by anaerobic digesters as a fuel source for natural gas generation. This provides electrical power for operations. This process provides significant cost savings along with positive environmental effects. It is estimated that the methane gas serving as a renewable energy source has improved the local air quality by reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the plant by up to 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents annually.
Gwinnett County has been a WaterFirst community since the program stated in 2003. WaterFirst is a voluntary community partnership between local governments and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to improve efficiency of water use and to protect water sources. To qualify as a WaterFirst community, a local government must exceed current requirements in eight categories: Watershed Assessment, Stormwater Master Planning, Water Supply Planning, Water Supply Protection, Water Conservation, Wastewater Treatment Systems and Management, Residual Biosolids, and Water Reclamation and Reuse.
Community Water Resource Management Plan
The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District’s Water Supply and Water Conservation Management Plan includes a framework for water supply facilities and strategies for resource management. Management strategies call for intensive demand management and an aggressive water conservation program. Returning highly treated wastewater to source water is included as a part of the District’s comprehensive approach to water resources management. The plan also outlines an education plan to raise public awareness of water supply and water conservation issues. Gwinnett County remains in compliance with the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Supply and Water Conservation Management Plan.
Gwinnett County conducts energy and water audits to determine ways to decrease power and water usages and enhance efficiency. From programming thermostats to switching out fixtures on toilets, these simple changes help the County minimize energy use, which is good for our environment and saves money.
Lights out, Power Down
The County uses a Lights Out, Power Down policy to ensure employees turn lights off and power down any equipment that can be turned off before leaving their workspaces.
More Sustainable Policies and Practices
Gwinnett County’s Green Fleet Policy was established in 2010. The policy outlines the County’s promise to purchase, lease, or obtain the most energy efficient vehicles possible to meet the needs of the department or agency, provided that adequate funding is available. It also describes that the County will operate and maintain the fleet in an energy efficient way that minimizes emissions. In line with this policy, from 2018 to early 2022, the County purchased 26 hybrid vehicles. Limiting fuel consumption from these vehicles reduces environmental impact and saves money.
Established in 2009, the County’s Anti-Idling policy established guidelines for employees in County vehicles to minimize idling time, saving fuel and reducing emissions.
Gwinnett County government provides opportunities to recycle paper, aluminum and/or steel containers, and plastics #1 and #2 at the government’s facilities. Single-stream recycling receptacles are in the office areas at Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, Fleet Management, Medical Examiner’s Office, One Justice Square, Central Services, Animal Welfare & Enforcement, Fire/Police Headquarters and buildings associated with their departments (stations, Annex, Training Centers), Water Resources, as well as County parks. In addition, smaller outlying facilities are encouraged to deliver recyclables to any of these locations to participate in the program. Single-stream receptacles are collected by the County’s housekeeping staff and the contents are placed into 8-yard front end load containers for transportation to a transfer station and ultimately a recycling facility.
Stormwater Retrofit Demonstration Projects
Gwinnett County launched a program of green infrastructure demonstration projects located on various County properties for public education. Green infrastructure is an approach to stormwater management that protects, restores, or mimics the natural water cycle in a more efficient and sustainable manner. The newest green infrastructure project is located on the property with the offices of Planning and Development at 446 West Crogan Street. This project provides examples of stormwater management techniques and products to civil design engineers and land developers. The demonstration areas enhance education, public outreach, and professional training by providing live active observation areas and serves as an outdoor classroom for school programs and public interest groups.
FOG and High-Strength Waste
Gwinnett County established a fats, oil, and grease — known as FOG — prevention program in 2000 and adopted an updated ordinance in 2008. The FOG program operates in accordance with the U.S. Clean Water Act and the Georgia Water Quality Control Act. The FOG ordinance outlines steps restaurants and food service establishments must undertake. The FOG program has reduced the impact on the system. The County’s Gas-to-Energy project provides a means to combust the gas in a generator, and the electricity produced can offset the second largest cost to the plant, electricity, by as much as 30 percent. It is estimated that the methane gas serving as a renewable energy source has improved the local air quality by reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the plant by up to 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents annually.