Going green? | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Going green?

Susan Wood

Tinted windows, waste diversion and composting – there are several ways from New York City to Portland to develop eco-friendly convention centers.

While the Portland Convention Center recycles 42 percent of its waste, the Moscone Center in San Francisco touts reusing 75 percent.

In South Lake Tahoe, where a convention facility is due to go in near Stateline, residents and officials have already been giving the idea some thought.

The proposed $410 million complex would feature a 93,000-square-foot convention center, two condominium hotels, 57,000 square feet of retail space and a 500-space parking structure.

“We plan to be as energy efficient as we can,” said Lew Feldman, attorney representing Lake Tahoe Development Co.’s Randy Lane of Stateline and John Serpa of Carson City.

The ideas are strictly preliminary, but Feldman said the developer has considered installing a central plant on the 12-acre site located between Highway 50, Cedar, Friday and Stateline avenues to power a complex-wide heating and cooling system.

“We’re keenly aware of constructing green buildings,” he said, adding the project will be designed as a LEED-certified complex. The standard stands for leader in energy efficient design.

Solar energy has been ruled out, as the technology has been determined too cost prohibitive and sprawling.

Feldman assured there are other ways to make the project environmentally friendly – especially when advancing it through the a review by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. The regulatory agency laid 20 pages of conditions in front of the developer, terms that can be made, Feldman said.

The project got a head start with reducing 2 acres of coverage from what exists there now. The area is marked by small, older shops and motels.

“And we want to use renewable resources when practical,” he added.

If that’s the case, Jeanne Lear of South Tahoe Refuse recommended contractors plug in space for implementing such programs into the specifications early on in the development. Groundbreaking is anticipated May 2007.

Lear mentioned concessions as small as allowing for enough drive-up space for the refuse company to bring in the trucks.

“We have to have adequate room to handle materials. Most of these facilities put in compactors,” she said.

Although South Lake Tahoe lumps all its trash at curbside headed for the conveyor belt, the refuse company allows some of the larger companies to separate items like beverage containers. She said a community-wide program to help in that effort is closer to fruition.

In comparison to other cities and facilities, the South Shore community might have a ways to go to catch up.

Last year, more than 1,400 tons of materials were diverted from the Moscone Center, reducing garbage costs by $500,000. With that, 200 tons of goods were donated to the local community.

In Portland, food from its convention center isn’t thrown away. It’s placed in a compost pile that is used as fertilizer from the recycling center, spokesman Matt Pizzuti claimed.

Auto flush toilets and sinks help with water conservation.

The center also filtrates its rainwater – and there’s much of that in Oregon – before it reaches the nearby Willamette River.

“It’s more fish friendly,” he said.

Windows do a lot of the work to heat the building. The tinted glass reflects the sun’s rays in summer and absorbs them in winter to cut down on energy costs.

“We’re responding to new building laws. In Oregon, any public project must be built to be environmentally friendly,” he said.

In New York, reports have indicated buildings have installed “smart glass” that switches from tinted to clear depending on the sun’s rays.

At least one regional resident posed the question to whether the South Shore should design an environmentally friendly public-private complex: “Should Tahoe settle for anything less?” Carla Ennis wrote in a letter to the editor to the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

“We talk endlessly about preserving the environment of our beautiful Tahoe basin. This is a win-win way to do that. Let’s give the green light to green building,” she wrote.

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