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Beverly Hills City Hall Powered by Solar

Author: Anna Chott, Sustainability Planner at East-West Gateway Council of Governments

 

 

Six or seven years ago, installing solar panels on Beverly Hills’s City Hall in North St. Louis County was just an idea, since there was no money in the City’s budget for the project. However, using deferred revenue and incentives from Ameren’s Biz Savers program, the city was able to renovate its city hall with energy efficient upgrades and add solar panels. Mayor Brian K. Jackson of Beverly Hills pointed out that the building still uses a gas water heater and furnace, although the use of gas decreased when they renovated the building, adding more insulation and upgrading to a more efficient HVAC system. The City also put new windows in the entire building and upgraded to more efficient water fixtures.

 

Mayor Jackson pointed out that many municipalities face the same ongoing struggle of budget constraints. “Doing smart things like this helps,” he said. “We’re trying to find other ways to cut costs and increase revenue for the City.” The mayor pointed out that the building’s last water bill was $46, including for the pharmacy housed on the second floor. The solar panels often save city hall over 50% on electric bills. But because the building does not have battery storage, they still have to pay for electricity when the sun is not shining. New clean energy tax credit rules would allow local governments to reduce costs even further on solar projects.

 

Regarding what is next for the City of Beverly Hills’s sustainability efforts, Mayor Jackson offered some ideas including providing plugs for residents to reduce ‘phantom power’ wasted by appliances that are plugged in when they do not need to be; ‘smart bus stops’ that use solar energy to keep the area lighted and offer a panic button to increase public safety; solar street lighting; and a facility to convert waste to energy.