OLDMANS TWP. The Urban Land Institute held a tour last week for a variety of public officials to get a behind-the-scenes look of an environmentally energy efficient facility here.
The former Army base on U.S. Route 310 along the Delaware River has taken on a fresh "green" perspective. Several buildings are being rehabilitated for environmentally conscious tenants to manufacture relatively inexpensive energy proficient products.
Originally a portion of the Army base was turned over to Oldmans Township because the base fell under the BRAC (Base Relocation and Closure) Program. Part of the facility is now being used by Energy Freedom Pioneers.
Wind props, solar panels, and fuel cells (batteries) were just a few environmentally approved products among the topic of conversation at the tour on Wednesday presented by Energy Freedom Pioneers partners Brian Blair and Jim Berardi.
Energy Freedom Pioneers is working on the eco-friendly industrial park at the site south of Pedricktown, which may help reduce the Earth's eco-footprint and put money back into energy consumers pockets.
Blair said the "go green company" has changed the Army base into an alternative energy center to better the economy within the township, as well as provide greener lifestyle options to residents locally and globally.
"The world is changing and people are more focused on producing natural energy than buying it from the local utility company," said Blair. "There is a boom of industry focused on producing wind, solar, geothermal heat, and biofuels. Manufacturing this Army base to be a renewable energy source is producing a community where these industries can produce their products without taxing the Earth."
The audience at the tour consisted of two freeholders, contractors and engineers.
Berardi addressed them with his explanation of how he and his partner will power the facility without pulling from the local utility company for a modest price.
"The local electric company will be the backup," said Berardi. "Solar and wind power will be the primary. It will be less money I believe eventually, but it's not about the money. It's about us cleaning up the Earth."
He said buildings with be sprayed with soy-based foam insulation allowing it to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Blair walked everyone through the former barracks and introduced the audience to the buildings' eco-friendly lighting system.
In an effort to acquire tenants, who will be accepted based on their devotion to producing items based on alternative energy use, the lighting will be an environmentally-approved fluorescent lighting.
An outside generator that runs on biodiesel will produce power for the building and allow it to act like a thermos.
Freeholder Julie Acton said the freeholders support the idea of an alternative energy facility as the wave of the future.
"I think that going green is the way to go for the future of our children," said Acton. "The county thinks the company is doing their homework on educating the tenants on the pros of going green."
Mike Errickson, an Elmer resident attending the Salem County Vocational Technical High School, said as an engineering student working at the facility, the experience has added to his insight of future energy use.
"I've gotten so much cross-section training," said Errickson. "If I learn these things now, then I'll be ahead of everybody else."
© 2008 Today's Sunbeam. Used with permission.