West Palm Beach, FL

The Solid Waste Authority (SWA) of Palm Beach County expanded its award-winning solid waste management system, adding a new waste-to-energy (WTE) facility—the first of its kind to be built in the United States in more than 15 years—to its Palm Beach County Renewable Energy Park. The plant processes one million tons of municipal solid waste per year and generates enough electricity to power 56,000 homes and businesses. The plant is also equipped with advanced control technology to reduce emissions. In addition, the emissions permit limits will be the lowest of any renewable energy facility combusting municipal solid waste in the United States.

Song + Associates was selected to provide the architectural and interior design for the SWA Waste-to-Energy Visitor Center. A sky bridge connects tour groups from the educational center to the main process building to witness the internal waste-to-energy process. The Visitors Center is now certified LEED Platinum; the highest certification a structure can receive. The center’s green features also include an elevator gallery penthouse on the rooftop, planted roof garden and a rain garden.

The Education Center design incorporates several sustainable aspects, such as:

- vegetated roofing that reduces the energy needed to cool the building

- floor tiles made of recycled tires that demonstrate novel recycling concepts

- a rainwater cistern for use on landscaping that reduces the need to use treated water

- motion-sensor lighting that conserves electricity

- solar panels that supplement the energy used on-site

- a reception desk made out of reclaimed concrete that demonstrates innovative reuse ideas