Skyscraper of Gainesville Florida Still Shines, Now with Solar Power
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Skyscraper of Gainesville Florida Still Shines, Now with Solar Power

Gainesville : FL : USA | Jan 11, 2012 at 1:40 PM PST
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Seagle Building : Gainesville Florida

When I was a kid it seemed everyone recognized Gainesville's tallest downtown building, the Seagle Building, as the ‘Empire State Building of Gainesville’. I was under the age of ten at that time so it seemed appropriate to compare the Gainesville structure to the tallest building in New York. After all, both resemble one another; tall, slender and “pointed” at the very top. That’s how I perceived things in 1965.

46 years have passed and the Gainesville icon still shines among the downtown buildings. In fact, the Seagle Building recently joined the ranks of ‘solar electricity producers’ and is now selling solar generated power to Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), through their feed-in tariff program.

A little history: initial construction of the Seagle Building began in the 1920’s and was planned to be the Hotel Kelly. The project went bust before the last floor was completed and it sat unfinished for over 10 years. The building finally reached completion in the mid 1930’s and subsequently housed several tenants, including the University of Florida Museum of Natural History which is now located across town.

The Seagle Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

In 1983 the “newly remodeled’ Seagle Building touted having entered a "new age" by installing “modern wiring, plumbing, telephone and cable jacks, a fire sprinkler system and emergency diesel generator”, according to the building’s website.

Now 29 years later, the building is shining with solar power too.

A few months ago the Seagle Building was selected by lottery to sell solar generated electric power to GRU through a 20 year feed-in tariff agreement. Subsequently the Seagle began feeding electricity to the GRU power grid on December 28, 2011. Power Production Management, a Gainesville based solar installation company, installed the 32.2 kW system which consists of 140 photovoltaic solar panels.

But don’t expect to see the solar array when walking or driving by the building, it’s located on the flat roof-top of the back lower portion of the Seagle Building and is only visible from above.

David Holbrook, president of Holbrook Group, Inc. and majority owner of the Seagle, says he has been interested in renewable energy for several years. He was first exposed to wind turbines and solar energy while living on a boat in the Bahamas a few years earlier. “I generated my power from a wind turbine and a solar panel and stored the power in a set of batteries”, says Holbrook. He has been hooked on the idea since.

The Seagle Building’s solar profile is listed in the Solar Ambassadors America project and can be viewed online. Soon the profile will also provide a live energy production feed which anyone can see. There are currently several Gainesville solar ambassador profiles available, including that of Sadie Darnell, Alachua County Sheriff.

For me - much has happened over the 40+ years.

In 1981 I moved away from Gainesville to reside in Oregon for 30 years. Like Gainesville - Portland, Oregon, is a leader of sustainable living and has influenced my lifestyle considerably. For example, I commuted by bicycle and electric train (Portland MAX Light Rail) while working for Solar Oregon, a nonprofit solar outreach and education company.

I moved back to my Gainesville roots about 14 months ago and continue to cycle to work each day for Clean Energy Logistics Lab, one of many tenants of the historic Seagle. My wife and I also maintain a small community garden plot at Dreamers Garden in Gainesville. I continue to work for Solar Oregon by telecommuting in support of ongoing community solarize programs, technology and databases.

From my perspective Gainesville continues to thrive as a leader in Florida and across the nation for sustainable living and innovation. New solar technology and sustainable programs continue to emerge from the University of Florida, the City of Gainesville, GRU and Alachua County. I’m just happy promoting the use of solar at Clean Energy Logistics Lab in Gainesville, Solar Oregon in Portland, and Solar Ambassadors America across the nation.

Solar outreach and helping people connect to solar is my passion. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about going solar.

Hadley Price : (352) 450-0975 : hadley@FindSolarPro.com

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