Representatives with OUC, the City of St. Cloud, Ajax Construction and Jacobs officially break ground on OUC’s net-zero energy St. Cloud Operations & Maintenance Center.

While construction vehicles moved dirt in the background, officials with OUC – The Reliable One and the City of St. Cloud commemorated the groundbreaking of the first net-zero energy campus in Florida to be built for a utility. OUC’s 24-acre St. Cloud Operations & Maintenance Center combines state-of-art technology with sustainability, with its buildings using 50% less energy and 42% less water than conventional facilities of similar size.

“We have a responsibility – we all do as members of the community – to lead and focus on sustainability, and that is mission critical for OUC,” said Clint Bullock, General Manager & CEO of OUC. He added that OUC is committed to reducing CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030 as part of an overall goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

OUC is the first utility in Florida to build a net-zero energy campus, the St. Cloud Operations & Maintenance Center.

OUC is expanding its footprint in St. Cloud to ensure it can meet increasing customer demand as the Osceola County city undergoes a growth spurt. OUC has been the city’s electricity provider since 1997 and has an agreement to continue in that role until at least 2042.

Designed by OUC and Jacobs, the $63.6 million campus aligns with OUC’s and the City of St. Cloud’s commitment to sustainability and renewable energy. Ajax Construction is building the facility located near the southwest corner of Hickory Tree Road in east St. Cloud.

Phase 1 of the project includes land development and construction of a 55,000-square-foot warehouse and a 22,000-square-foot fleet maintenance facility with service bays, parts stores, electric vehicle (EV) fleet charging and fueling stations, and a vehicle wash area. About 260 people will work on this part of the project. Future phases are expected to include an administrative facility and a substation. More than 2 million pounds of concrete and 640 tons of steel will be used in building the campus.

The project includes several sustainable features, including rooftop solar panels, floating solar, high-efficiency water fixtures, rainwater harvesting tanks, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, walking and biking trails, and EV charging stations. Human-focused design strategies were added to promote well-being, safety and encourage healthy choices. Buildings on campus were designed to meet the stringent requirements of LEED®, Fitwel and WELL Health Safety Standard.

Natural light will provide most of the buildings’ interior lighting.

Sunlight will provide 80% of the site’s interior lighting while solar arrays generate 1.5 million kilowatt hours of energy per year.

Scheduled for completion in December 2023, the warehouse and fleet maintenance buildings will open at the tail end of OUC’s 100th anniversary. Initially, about 50 employees will work at the campus.

“I’d like to thank OUC for 25 years of reliable service and a meaningful partnership,” said St. Cloud Mayor Nathan Blackwell. “We are extremely grateful for this incredibly significant investment that OUC, the Reliable one, is making in our growing community.”