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Greening Main Street – Ronceverte’s Eco District

Historic and high tech are not often mentioned in the same breath – that is, unless you’re visiting Ronceverte’s Eco-District. Here, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and geothermal projects are part of an award-winning business strategy for community revitalization. In May, the Ronceverte Development Corporation’s Main Street Program won the 2010 Governor’s Main Street and On Trac Community Award for Economic Development Innovation, along with a $15,000 award to advance their eco-district planning.

The development of a comprehensive plan calls for three phases.

  • First, send members to an eco-district conference in Portland, OR so they can learn more about the concept and bring back information for the RDC and community.
  • Second, to bring in experts to the community who understand renewable energy, greening of downtowns, rain gardens and other concepts associated with the eco-district concept to develop a plan that is specific to Ronceverte.
  • Third, once a plan is completed, hold community support and education meetings to discuss how this unique little town can benefit from becoming an Eco District.

The RDC wants to work with the community and city to create an overall plan that encompasses historic preservation, energy efficiency and sustainability of our buildings, while promoting rain gardens, geothermal heating and cooling systems, solar PV panels, and energy from wind and water.  For instance, by using PV Panels, a business could put any extra energy from solar panels back into the power grid – or use it to power a city streetlight on their corner. The group is also exploring putting in geothermal wells under the city’s parking lots that face the commercial district of downtown and then utilizing those wells for heating and cooling the buildings.

 The RDC is helping to shape a progressive direction for the redevelopment of downtown. There is keen business logic behind the green plans. Making the buildings as energy efficient as possible, not only helps the businesses save money, but it also serves as a marketing tool to promote Ronceverte as a smart place to locate a business.  The reduced energy costs translates into a greater profit for businesses, a concept that any owner will tell you is a win-win for both Ronceverte and the business.

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