News Flash

Parks/Facilities

Posted on: January 4, 2022

Rice County growing ever greener

Verdick-Matt-21

From hybrid and electric vehicles to selecting recycled products when possible, Rice County continues to expand its eco-friendly practices.

Earlier this year, the county purchased its first hybrid van. The vehicle, a 2021 Toyota Sienna for the Veterans Services Department, is used to pick up military veterans and transport them to the VA in Minneapolis for medical appointments on average four times a week.  While the county hasn’t yet compared gas usage of the Sienna with its predecessor, Veterans Services Administrative Assistant Deb Malmanger says the van’s drivers have seen a noticeable decrease in how frequently they need to fill up.

In another few weeks, the county will take delivery of three hybrid SUVs. One will go into the county’s general fleet, two will be available for Social Services employees who transport children receiving services and those who serve clients in their homes.

I expect to order another three hybrid SUVS this spring, further reducing the county’s carbon footprint.

While the county has yet to purchase a fully electric vehicle, its taking steps that could help make that a reality.  County leaders are discussing the potential for a charging station in Faribault, one that would be available for the county’s fleet and for the public. 

County buildings are also becoming more environmentally friendly. 

Installation of high efficiency LED light fixtures is about 95% complete in the Rice County Government Services Building and complete in the Highway Department facility, with much of the work done during recent remodeling projects. Next up is the courthouse, with completion projected sometime in 2022.

With a remodel of the Law Enforcement Center/Community Corrections facility downtown planned in the not too distant future, county facilities staff are replacing burned out bulbs there with LEDs, but holding off on replacing fixtures so brand new ones aren’t removed when its interior is redone.

In late 2020, the county switched all its paper products to those that contain recycled material and its soaps, cleaners and other chemicals to those that are Green Seal certified. On top of that, the products are shipped in packaging made with recycled materials.

Recycling will soon be the norm in all Rice County buildings. While the bright blue containers are now in many areas of the buildings, by the end of the first quarter 2022, each office will also have its own recycling bin, ensuing that pop cans, plastic bottles, scrap paper and the like don’t end up in the landfill.

Green energy is also on the table. The Board of Commissioners Sustainability Subcommittee is exploring options for solar, considering where the panels would be feasible and practical, and whether the energy produced would be sold back to the grid or if it could be used to power county facilities.

Rice County and its employees want to be good stewards of the environment, and our county facilities and parks, and reduce costs in doing so whenever possible. 

 

Contact:

Matt Verdick, Parks & Facilities Director

[email protected]

507-332-6105  

 

Suzy Rook, Communications Specialist

[email protected]

507-384-6509

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