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Climate Action and Resiliency

Climate Action and Resiliency Division

For Immediate Release

Board of Supervisors approves $3.5 million in energy upgrades to Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building

SANTA ROSA, CA | August 22, 2023

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors today approved a $3.5 million project to make the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building more energy efficient and resilient to power outages and climate change.

The upgrades are designed to save money on energy and cut greenhouse gas emissions while creating a reliable source of electricity to power the building during blackouts and other emergencies. In addition, the project will allow the building to be used as a public cooling center during extreme heat events.

“The Veterans Memorial Building is the largest public assembly facility of its kind in Sonoma County, used daily by our military veterans and many other community groups,” said Supervisor Chris Coursey, chair of the Board of Supervisors. “It also plays a critical role during disasters, serving as a regional evacuation hub and emergency shelter. Today’s investment will ensure this 75-year-old building continues to serve the public, in good times and bad, well into the future.”

Located at 1351 Maple Ave. across from the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, the Veterans Memorial Building was constructed in 1948. The improvements approved by the board today include:

  • A 110.7 kW solar photovoltaic canopy in the parking lot, with the capacity to add Level 2 chargers in the future for electric The canopy will cover about 28 parking spaces north of the building.
  • A 80 kW battery energy storage system and The equipment will allow the facility to operate as a fully powered island during electricity outages. The system will also save money, enabling facility managers to charge the battery when electricity rates are lowest and use the stored energy from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. when energy is more expensive.
  • Replacement of the auditorium’s existing natural gas-powered heating system with electric heat pumps, which will also operate as air conditioners during hot Currently, the building is not equipped with central air conditioning.
  • New digital controls for all lighting, solar photovoltaic, battery storage and HVAC systems, which will allow for automatic and remote management to reduce waste.
  • Installation of LED lights throughout thebuilding.

The upgrades are expected to save 157,920 kWh of electricity and 1,770 therms of natural gas each year.

Roughly half of the $3.5 million project will be funded with money from Climate Resilience Funds awarded by the Board of Supervisors in February 2022. The remainder could be financed through a Tax-Exempt Lease Purchase Agreement, which could add $1 million in interest and financing costs over the 20-year life of the lease. County staff is exploring other options to cut interest costs, potentially including the use of money set aside for deferred maintenance.

The project will pay for itself by qualifying for $588,410 in incentives and generating more than $4.9 million in energy savings over the useful lifetime of the equipment.

Media Contact:
Ted Appel, Communications Specialist
(707) 565-3040