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Alternative Energy : Development News

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Tampa Downtowner shows success in first 6 months

After celebrating the first six months of a partnership with Downtowner in April, the Tampa Downtown Partnership is confident in the ride service’s continued success.

“It has certainly met and exceeded what our performance expectations were,” says TDP spokeswoman Kelsy Van Camp. “Getting it started we knew it was going to fill a need, but we didn’t know quite how large that need was.”

The free ride service was launched toward the end of 2016 with the goal of enhancing first-mile/last-mile transportation for residents, workers and tourists in the downtown area. TDP entered into a two-year agreement with Downtowner to bring the idea to market and show off its potential in hopes of prompting further investment down the line.

According to TDP, by mid-April the Downtowner had served 86,146 passengers with 101,192 miles logged. The vehicles in Downtowner’s fleet are also 100 percent electric, meaning that the thousands of miles driven equates to 41 tons of carbon dioxide kept out of Tampa’s air.  

Van Camp says the two most popular pick-up and drop-off locations are the University of Tampa and the Marion Transit Center. The activity at UT goes to show that college-aged individuals are quick to take advantage of the convenience of these types of “on-demand” services,” she says.

Aside from TDP, key partners in the public-private funding of the service include Downtown Community Redevelopment Area, Channel District Community Redevelopment Area and the Florida Department of Transportation.

With the initial success witnessed in the first six months of service, Van Camp says she is confident the Downtowner will be able to attract additional funding in the future and continue to help meet first-mile/last-mile transportation needs.

“We’re hoping we can potentially expand the fleet first and then start looking to grow the service area,” she says.

For more information or to learn how to request a ride, visit Downtowner online.

University Of Tampa Residence Hall Meets Gold Standard

University of Tampa's newest residence hall is solid gold as an eco-friendly, green building.

The U.S. Green Building Council recently issued a LEED Gold certification for West Kennedy Hall, which opened in August 2013. It is the university's third certification from the council, which is recognized nationally as the standard setter for environmentally sound construction practices.

The university's Science Annex is also a LEED Gold certified building, and the Dickey Health and Wellness Center is LEED Silver.

West Kennedy Hall is an 11-story residence hall on Kennedy Boulevard that houses more than 520 students.

"I believe West Kennedy successfully both reflects the latest in University campus amenities and achieves innovative ways to conserve natural resources and lessen the impact on the environment," says UT President Ronald Vaughn.

The university wants buildings that are comfortable and user-friendly for people, says Taylor Ralph, president of REAL Building Consultants, which works with UT on its LEED certification.  

"But efficiency also is part of it," Ralph says. "That means that by not wasting money on energy costs the university can spend it in other areas. There is no sense in wasting energy. It makes fiscal sense."

The design, construction and operations of West Kennedy Hall includes the following green efficiencies:
  • Solar panels on the roof to heat water used by students
  • Low-flow shower heads and toilets that reduce water use by 38 percent, or more than 2.3 million gallons per year
  • Improved energy efficiency with a chilled water system, low-energy lighting and maximized natural daylight in rooms
  • Improved indoor air quality with environmentally-friendly paints, adhesives, sealants and other construction materials
  • Recycling of more than 78 percent of construction waste 
  • Recycling of rainwater stored in a storm water vault for irrigation of a portion of the campus
  • Landscaping with Florida-native and drought-tolerant plants
  • Green cleaning program to maintain the building with healthy cleaning practices and products
  • Reducing reliance on automobiles because the residence hall is within walking distance of bus stops, parks, the Tampa Riverwalk and restaurants
Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Ron Vaughn, University of Tampa

Eco-friendly Communities Get New Design Guidelines

New urbanism is adding a new tool to its design palette for developing communities that are walkable, sustainable and eco-friendly.
For nearly 20 years the U.S. Green Building Council has issued certifications to show that building construction has met independent standards for environmental responsibility. But after testing a pilot program, a new certification is being offered, known as LEED ND, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - Neighborhood Development.
This takes a more holistic approach to community development. 
On Wednesday, April 9, from noon to 1:30 p.m. the U.S. Green Building Council Florida Gulf Coast Chapter and the Congress for the New Urbanism Tampa Bay will host a luncheon meeting where urban designers Erin Chantry and Vinod Kadu will discuss the new rating system. The event is at The Charter House, 7616 W. Courtney Campbell Causeway.
Pasco County developer Frank Starkey also is guest speaker and will talk about his experiences with LEED in developing the new urban community of Longleaf as well as his views on what the new ratings mean for future development. 
The cost is $25 for organization members and $35 for non-members.
"(The new system) obviously takes into account not just buildings but the streets and overall development," says Taylor Ralph, a board member of the U.S. Green Building Council Florida Gulf Coast Chapter and president of REAL Building Consultants.
Storm water, energy efficiencies, sidewalks and recyling efforts are among the factors that will be reviewed in looking at the total project, Ralph says.
The Encore development, north of downtown, is expected to be one of the first master-planned communities in Florida to qualify for the new LEED certification.
Encore is a $425 million mixed-income housing and retail development being built by the Tampa Housing Authority and Banc of America Community Development Corp. The Ella, a 160-unit senior apartment building, opened in 2012 and is fully occupied. The Trio, a 141-unit multi-family apartment building, is opening in May. The Reed, a 158-unit senior apartment building, is slated to open in 2015 along with The Tempo, a 203-unit multi-family apartment building. Retail, a grocery store and a hotel also are anticipated for Encore.
Writer: Kathy Steele
Taylor Ralph, REAL Building Consultants

Trammell Crow Spreads Sustainable Development Worldwide

Trammell Crow Company started its focus on sustainable design and development in 2005. Since 2006, the company has completed over 20 million square feet of LEED certified projects, with more in the pipeline.

About 85 percent of the company’s projects are LEED certified, which are 30-40 percent more efficient than traditional buildings.

"The whole idea is to leverage knowledge. To see the best of what’s going on around the country and make sure that we are constantly building on top of the best of what we see done when we take on a new development," says Robert Abberger, Senior Managing Director and Chief Sustainability Officer for Trammell Crow Company.

One such concept is the use of potable water to fuel cooling systems so the condensed water generated can then be pumped back into the water and sewer system, creating a multiplier effect.

Abberger notes that the biggest energy user in the world is commercial buildings (even more so than cars or residences), creating huge implications for the impact on human health and the environment.

Projects in Tampa Bay include the Marriott Waterside in downtown Tampa, an intermodal facility at the Port of Ybor and Posner Commons on I-4.

A flagship project is Darden's global headquarters in Orlando. Since Trammell Crow Company developed the building, the company has taken sustainability to the next level, reducing potable water consumption by more than 1 billion gallons per year throughout its 1,700 restaurants.

Abberger says his job is particularly rewarding when clients share his passion and excitement for sustainability. "The things that we’re doing have a national impact, which is then carried to international activities. It’s pretty rewarding."

The company is one of 13 local businesses honored recently with The University of Tampa's Earth Charter Sustainable Business Awards. The awards were based on three criteria: people (employee and community wellbeing), planet (environmental health) and profit (economic viability).

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Robert Abberger, Trammell Crow Company

Net Zero Energy Building Opens In St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg's first self-sustaining, net zero building celebrated its grand opening on Monday, December 3rd.

As Florida's first designated green city, St. Petersburg is the new home of the Sierra Club's state headquarters and Big Sea Design and Development and Roundhouse Creative offices.

Built by All Florida Management with partners Bosch and Florida garden center Twig Leaves, St. Pete's first self-sustaining, net zero building is a U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum applicant, fully equipped with environmentally friendly solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, a water-to-air geothermal heat exchange system, glare-reducing thermal barrier window tinting, green spaces with native landscaping, rainwater harvesting and a weekly recycling program.

In other words: zero energy bill.

“These days, green businesses aren't just focused on developing earth-friendly technologies -- they are committed to offering a product or service that consumers know has little to no environmental impact,” says Tom Hall, the building's developer and managing partner of All Florida Management. “The emergence of this new green business culture has allowed our company to focus on meeting the needs of the small business community by dedicating ourselves to cultivating environmentally conscious commercial building platforms that reflect both our clients' personal and professional values.”

Roundhouse Creative is one of those small businesses looking to take advantage of everything the new eco-friendly building has to offer; Andrew Lee and his wife, Brooke, founded their production studio in 2007, focused on telling powerful stories and creating beautiful designs. Roundhouse Creative moved into a 2,600-square-foot space in the new building that is shared with Big Sea Design and Development.

“We made the decision years ago in our personal lives to be conscious of the environment and are excited about what being net zero will mean to our customers,” says Lee. “By hiring Roundhouse Creative, our customers can now benefit from the fact that their new website, TV commercial or web video has been produced with a near net zero environmental impact.”

With Roundhouse Creative's new space currently open for business, Lee looks forward to thriving in downtown St. Pete: What he calls a regional hub for art, culture and great food.

“Innovative, forward-thinking projects like this building are a perfect fit for the city and add to why I love St. Pete. I couldn't be more excited about what this project means for the area,” he says. “I hope other business owners become educated on the benefits of net zero and understand that they can now make conscious decisions for their business with the environment and future generations in mind.”

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Tom Hall, All Florida Management & Andrew Lee, Roundhouse Creative

Tampa Mayor Adds StreetLights, Improves Safety

Thanks to a multimillion dollar investment, Tampa's about to get a lot brighter.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced a new street lighting program, “Bright Lights, Safe Nights,” a $2.2 million commitment over the next five years to expand the city's current streetlight network by 30 percent.

“Brighter lights mean safer neighborhoods and safer streets,” says Buckhorn. “Joining with our partners at TECO, this initiative will eliminate dark areas where criminals can hide and illuminate streets and intersections where our children cross.”

Improving Tampa's quality of life, approximately 8,400 new streetlights will be strategically placed throughout the city, including Community Redevelopment Areas and zones with high crime and/or crash rates; installation will begin in January 2013 with approximately 1,683 new lights per year.

Tampa Electric will oversee the installation with the City of Tampa funding electricity and maintenance; the City currently funds 30,000 streetlights, totaling $5 million annually.

“We've been lighting Tampa for 114 years and we look forward to doing our part to meet the Mayor's goal,” says Gordon Gillette, president of Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, early-morning and nighttime crashes can be reduced by about 35 percent with additional streetlights.

In addition, two research projects by the Institute of Criminology at the United Kingdom's University of Cambridge in 2005 found that documented crimes decreased up to 45 percent with the financial savings from reduced crimes exceeding the cost of lighting by up to 10 times.

“A well-light city is a safer city,” says Buckhorn.

“Bright Lights, Safe Nights” fulfills Buckhorn's promise to complete a citywide lighting inventory, determining where updates and repairs are necessary throughout Tampa, including the replacement of dimming streetlights and removal of tree branch obstructions.

The City is asking residents to request repairs on existing streetlights and/or submit suggestions for new streetlight locations.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Mayor Bob Buckhorn, City of Tampa & Gordon Gillette, Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas

Gift To USF: $12 Million Toward New College Of Global Sustainability

Thanks to the help of Drs. Kiran C. and Pallavi Patel, a new College of Global Sustainability may be in the works for the University of South Florida (USF).

The latest contribution to the USF: Unstoppable Campaign -- a $600 million effort to celebrate the energy, vision and future of the university -- the Patels recently donated $12 million to the university toward an endowment aimed at creating the new Patel College of Global Sustainability.

The new college will expand on nearly a decade of research in an attempt to advance sustainability around the globe.

“The Earth is God's gift to humanity and we believe that the current generation must ensure that while meeting our present needs,” the Patels say. “The world's rapidly depleting resources and growing population require us to become more efficient and think of new ways to develop sustainable and renewable sources of clean water, energy, food and transportation.”

Upon university approval, the new Patel college -- which could begin accepting students as early as January 2013 -- will bring the current work of the Patel School of Global Sustainability to a new level, allowing it to focus on improved urban systems, water and transportation.

Recently, the Patel School of Global Sustainability, which Pallavi Patel calls a “do tank, not a think tank,” became the first North American university to obtain a research and strategy partnership with the UN-HABITAT Partner University Initiative. Together, USF and UN-HABITAT will establish the first United Nations Urban Futures Research Hub in the U.S., promoting education and professional development in emerging cities.

“We are inspired by the Patels' vision of a world where all people have a real chance to reach their full potential in a clean, healthy environment,” says USF President Judy Genshaft. “We are humbled that they have entrusted USF to be a partner in making the vision of a better tomorrow a reality. The Patels' trust in us means as much as the money they give.”

Right here in Tampa, the current Patel School has created a multiyear learning and research partnership with water management in the Netherlands called Resilient Tampa Bay. An effort to prepare the region for potential urban flooding challenges brought by hurricanes and rising sea levels, the program is guiding future development in an attempt to protect areas vulnerable to severe flooding.

The latest $12 million gift from the Patels brings the family's contribution to USF to $25.8 million. Through a series of donations and matching state funds, the Patels have focused their endowments and attention on sustainable global development and healthcare through supporting the Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions Endowment Fund, USF Health, the Dr. Kiran Patel Center for Global Solutions Operating Fund and the Patel Center for Global Solutions.

According to Genshaft, the Patels leadership, influence and donations have helped USF become one of the top 50 research universities in the nation.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Drs. Kiran C. and Pallavi Patel & Judy Genshaft, USF

Manatee Renovates Historic Courthouse, Bradenton

Manatee County recently celebrated the completion of a $2.9 million renovation project on the county's Historic Courthouse.

Funded by Manatee's general fund, improvement work on the 100-year-old courthouse employed nearly 80 local workers, taking about 15 months to complete: The project, which came under budget by by $72,468, involved replacing the building's roof, windows, parapet, cornice and parts of its trademark brick facade.

“Structural deficiencies were mounting at the building -- from cracks in the facade to chipping cornice to leaky roofs -- and were becoming a public safety issue. Postponing these repairs would have only worsened the condition, jeopardizing the future of one of Manatee County's most historic structures,” says Nicholas Azzara, Manatee County government spokesman. “The recent upgrades have not only improved energy efficiencies, but they've also brought the building up to hurricane-resistant standards to ensure that the records of this community are extremely secure.”

Inside of the courthouse, 1,602 light bulbs, 1,177 ballasts and a number of lamps and sockets were replaced with energy-saving components. Since the renovation, energy costs at the building have dropped by more than 50 percent; three years ago, the county was paying approximately $17,000 per month versus the approximately $7,500 paid since the renovation.

“We think the community will take great pride in this renovation,” Azzara says. “It's the site of so many celebrations throughout the year: From events commemorating fallen firemen, policemen and veterans to concerts and festivals on the lawn. These are the kinds of events that weave the community together.”

In 2011, the county used a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to complete a separate improvement project, connecting a new energy-efficient chiller to the Historic Courthouse; new equipment was installed in place of the old, delivering fresh air into the building. According to Azzara, this project has produced savings of approximately $138,000 per year in energy and maintenance costs.

A centerpiece of architecture in downtown Bradenton, the Manatee County Historic Courthouse is currently on the National Register of Historic Places.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Nicholas Azzara, Manatee County

Tampa Port Authority To Build Oil Recycling Facility

The Tampa Port Authority and NexLube Tampa recently joined forces, signing a long-term lease to develop and construct an oil recycling facility at the Port of Tampa.

Marking a $75 million to $80 million investment, the new facility will have the capacity to process up to 24 million gallons of used oil per year at the Port and is said to be be the first of its kind in Florida. Ultimately, the recycled oil will be used to produce lubricants, diesel and asphalt while oil from automobile oil changes will be reprocessed for use.

“[This project has] been in the works for over two years,” says Andrew Fobes, director of public relations at the Port. “All of the legwork has been completed and NexLube is ready to move ahead.”

The new facility will be located on 12 acres at Pendola Point in Tampa and is expected to create hundreds of jobs during a two-year construction phase. Once fully operational, the facility is expected to generate approximately $10 million in Hillsborough County property tax revenues to the Port Authority over the term of the 20-year lease agreement.

“We are extremely pleased to partner with NexLube Tampa on this amazing project. As a major petroleum port, Tampa is a logical center for significant oil recycling,” says Port Director and CEO Richard Wainio, who is retiring in September. “We are eager to see NexLube's business succeed and thank the many partners who helped make this day possible.”

Upon completion of construction, a total of 75 full-time positions with average salaries and wages ranging between $60,000 and $65,000 is expected at the new facility.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Andrew Fobes & Richard Wainio, Tampa Port Authority

Downtown St. Pete Adds 12 Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Downtown St. Petersburg is keen on going green: The City recently welcomed a handful of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations.

Home to the only electrical vehicle dealer in Florida, 12 new charging stations were recently installed throughout greater downtown St. Pete as part of the city's Green City initiative. St. Pete Public Works Administrator Mike Connors presided over the partnership.

“It's a proud day for St. Petersburg toward preserving the environment and continuing our green mission,” says St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster.

Designated by the Florida Green Building Coalition as the first city in Florida to become a “Green City, ” St. Pete is home to several environmental education resources such as Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, Sunken Gardens and Weedon Island Preserve.

The area also features several renowned environment initiatives including a successful Mulch and Soil Builder Program and one of the country's largest reclaimed water systems.

At just 40 cents per hour, the City of St. Pete and the Dali Museum are covering the cost of charging during the stations' introductory phase. The charging stations can accommodate up to two vehicles at a time, featuring the charging capacity of either a 110- or 220-volt charge.

With 10 of 12 installations funded by ChargePoint America through a grant from the Department of Energy as a part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the other two stations were independently installed by the Dali Museum.

Currently, Florida is home to 553 electric vehicle charging stations. St. Pete has plans to install six more throughout the city.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster

Florida Students, Faculty Compete In U.S. Energy Solar Decathlon 2011

As part of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011, Team Florida has spent nearly two years working on its entry: the FleX House.

Based on a design by a partnership between the University of South Florida (USF), Florida State University (FSU), the University of Florida (UF) and the University of Central Florida (UCF), the FleX House is jam-packed with the latest cutting-edge, energy-efficient technology complete with moving parts that can easily adapt to different site situations and plan configurations; a $20,000 photovoltaic (PV) array was even recently installed onto the roof of the 1,000-square-foot building.

“Systems such as the solar array are opportunities to show society that we can make the right steps toward sustainability,” says Justin Vandenbroeck, a FSU engineering major who acted as an engineer on the project. “We aren't relying on fossil fuels to produce our energy -- instead we're harnessing the power of the sun that's been shining on us as long as we've existed. It's a common misunderstanding that solar energy is a futuristic idea that isn't practical, but it's actually very feasible.”

More than 50 students and faculty have worked on the $200,000 FleX House project behind the Beck Group's headquarters in downtown Tampa, at 220 W. 7th Ave. Donations and in-kind services from businesses throughout Florida such as Solar Ray, Prosolar Systems and SolarWorld USA -- a company where Vandenbroeck interned -- provided funds for the Solar Decathlon entry.

“Our objective was to design and build a solar-powered house that is not only energy efficient but cost effective as well,” says Vandenbroeck. “This event is an opportunity for students of all majors to express their visions on a large scale and really show the change they want to see.”

In order to participate in the Solar Decathlon on September 14 in Washington, D.C., the FleX house must be dismantled for transportation and reassembled before the competition where it will be judged against a variety of 18 houses for the title of the most energy efficient in the world.

“By investing in solar energy, you’re not only investing in energy independence in our country, but you are investing in a green economy and creating jobs right here at home,” says Vandenbroeck. “The sun isn’t going to stop shining anytime soon, so let’s take advantage of it.”

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Justin Vandenbroeck, Florida State University

Eckerd College: High Hopes For New Science Center, St. Pete

In an attempt to educate future scientists, Eckerd College continues work on its new Center for Molecular and Life Sciences (CMLS).

The single-story 55,000-square-foot facility will cost approximately $25 million to complete, featuring 9 labs; two classrooms; three faculty-student research spaces; 14 faculty offices; several student study areas and meeting rooms; a greenhouse; an open lobby and gathering space; two covered courtyards; and research support spaces, among other things.

"Equipped with the latest in educational technology and scientific instrumentation, CMLS will bolster Eckerd's efforts to transform its science curriculum, contributing to the kind of innovation needed for Eckerd students to complete globally in science and technology," says Dr. Laura Wetzel, building shepherd for the center and associate professor of Marine Science and Geosciences. "The new venues offered by the center will welcome thousands annually for the President Events Series, Alumni Weekend, the Annual Science Symposium, summer science and sports camps and more."

Transforming Eckerd's science curriculum, the construction of the new state-of-the-art facility will promote new academic initiatives that explore developments at the Chemistry-Biology Interface. Housing existing Biology, Chemisty and Biochemistry programs, CMLS will be equipped with the latest in science instrumentation, as well as educational technology, in an attempt to further developments in Marine and Environmental sciences.

"Since 1964-65, when Eckerd's original science buildings were constructed, enrollments have increased 500 percent without a parallel growth in facilities," says Wetzel. "Now, nearly one-third of Eckerd's student body majors in the sciences. Eckerd's newly-graduated students trained in the center will add to the science and technology workforce in the Tampa Bay area."

With completion on schedule and expected by August 2012, CMLS will be designed and constructed with a goal in mind: obtaining the Platinum level of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) Certification. If achieved, CMLS will become the first non-residential building in the St. Pete area with the certification.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Dr. Laura Wetzel, Eckerd College

St. Pete Expo Focuses On Green Industry Growth

Green experts and those curious about sustainability met in St. Petersburg in early April to discuss how to make homes and businesses more sustainable.

Part of that discussion revolved around how the greening of America would help jumpstart the economy and create jobs -- particularly here in the Tampa Bay region.

The Tampa Bay Living Green Expo took place at the St. Petersburg Coliseum on April 2 and 3, 2011, and featured booths, experts, demonstrations and panel discussions that ranged from Conquering Your Sprinkler Challenges to the ABCs of Composting. One of the panels focused on Green Jobs, and featured panelist John Wakefiield, senior VP of EcoAsset Solutions in Tampa.

Wakefield says the outlook for green jobs looks good, particularly in the public sector.

"I think looking into the next five years, the opportunities are ripe," says Wakefield. "What we think needs to happen is for communities in the Tampa Bay area to implement a Pace (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program. If the program was implemented in Tampa, it would provide financing for retrofit appliances. The jobs they would create would help the hardest hit sector: construction and trades."

"I would say that sustainability has emerged as the strongest driver of growth," continues Wakefield. "There are a few things driving that trend: First, rising regulatory and customer pressure for it in the marketplace. Second, companies are in need of the grants out there that reward sustainable efforts, and third, companies are seeing sustainability as a competitive and financial driver -- anything to grow revenue, especially where the economy is right now."

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: John Wakefield, EcoAsset Solutions

First Electric Car Dealership Opens In St. Pete

After selling cars for almost 40 years and keeping tabs on the car sales industry, Richard Nimphie decided to electrify his business for 2011. He opened an electric car lot at 2401 4th St. N. in St. Petersburg.

"For the past few years, every industry journal I read spoke of electric vehicles," says Nimphie. "This gives me the opportunity to get into an innovative end of the automobile business that will make a difference."

Suncoast Electric Vehicles sells personal and electric vehicles, or EVs, that include the Wheego Whip for neighborhood drives, the Wheego LiFe for highway trips, two Vantage GreenVan models and two Vantage GreenTruck models. Nimphie says he believes he is the only dealer of all-electric cars and trucks in this part of the country.

"I've checked on the Internet, and to my knowledge we are the only dealer in Florida, or the Southeast that is dedicated to selling all electric automobiles and trucks."

Because the cars are assembled in California and shipped to St. Petersburg, customers must reserve their car and wait for delivery. The dealership also will provide free charging to its customers at its solar-powered charging station. EVs take approximately eight hours to charge, and the highway car will run up to 70 miles per hour for the equivalent of 100 miles to the gallon. Each car at Suncoast Electric is sold with an adapter that allows cars to be charged from a 110-volt electric outlet.

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Richard Nimphie, Suncoast Electric Vehicles

Studies Underway For Proposed Tampa Bay Ferry

What if Tampa, like Seattle, had ferry service across its waterway?

That's what officials from the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) are wondering. They've hired Jacobs Engineering and Cambridge Systematics to conduct preliminary studies to explore the possibility of a circular ferry route across Tampa Bay.

"It's a feasibility study to see if water transit is something we could pursue," explains Randy Kranjec of the Hillsborough County MPO . "Consultants will come back after this first phase to determine whether water transit is viable."

According to Cambridge Systematics' Michael Williamson, initial stakeholder input suggests a water ferry service would be a viable option for commuting purposes as well as recreational and tourism-related activities. A connection between downtown Tampa and downtown St. Petersburg is one of the more favorable routes.. Factors still to be considered include water depth, speed restrictions and vessel characteristics (capacity, speed, amenities). Other connections being considered include Westshore, MacDill AFB, Safety Harbor/Oldsmar, Fort DeSoto and Gibsonton/Apollo Beach.

The idea for ferry service has been debated for several years and is included in the Master Plan developed by the Tampa Bay  Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA). Investigations began as early as 2003. In 2008 Hillsborough County received federal funds to conduct a feasibility study and later that year the Urban Charrette hosted a Design Charrette on behalf of the Tampa Downtown Partnership that explored the logistics of water taxi service across Tampa Bay.

According to Williamson, next steps will focus on estimating potential ridership demand for select routes, further consideration of station locations and vessel technologies, and development of findings and recommendations to guide the next phase.

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Sources: Randy Kranjec, Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization; Michael Williamson, Cambridge Systematics
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