On Thursday, OUC—The Reliable One gathered with construction partners, dignitaries, and community leaders to cut the ribbon on OUC’s state-of-the-art St. Cloud Operations & Maintenance Center, the first net-zero campus for a Florida utility.

According to OUC, the $67 million, 24-acre campus will reach net-zero emissions through conservation, sustainable design and construction practices, and the use of renewable energy.

The new center will increase OUC’s efficiency and responsiveness to the area following storms. Additionally, the buildings will house additional OUC team members and host mutual aid crews during hurricane restoration efforts.

“With this facility, OUC is building on our 27-year partnership with the City of St. Cloud and demonstrates our commitment to ensuring reliability and resiliency in this growing community,” said Clint Bullock, OUC’s General Manager & CEO. “Today also marks another step toward OUC’s goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. We are proud of what our team has accomplished with this net-zero energy campus, which sets a standard that other organizations will hopefully follow in the future.”

OUC St. Cloud
OUC St. Cloud
OUC St. Cloud
St. Cloud OUC
OUC St. Cloud
OUC Safety

OUC’s St. Cloud Operations & Maintenance Center was designed by Jacobs and built by Ajax Building Company, and aligns with OUC’s and the City of St. Cloud’s commitment to sustainability and renewable energy.

“The City’s partnership with OUC has benefited our residents, as the utility has strategically worked to build resiliency into the system,” said St. Cloud Mayor Nathan Blackwell. “The investment OUC is making in St. Cloud with the opening of this new net-zero Operations and Maintenance Center, is just the continuation of what has been a successful partnership for nearly three decades. We welcome this facility to St. Cloud and look forward to many more years of partnering together to serve our community.”

Central to the campus are a 55,000-square-foot warehouse and 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. Sustainable and conservation features include roof-mounted and building-integrated solar panels, high-efficiency water fixtures, a 28,000-rainwater harvesting cistern, Florida-friendly and native landscaping, EV charging stations for OUC’s fleet and facility visitors, and 54 skylights that allow natural light to illuminate workspaces, reducing the building’s energy consumption.

Human-focused design strategies, which promote employee well-being, safety and encourage healthy choices, include an elevated outdoor walking track, indoor fitness center, skylights and active workstations. On campus buildings meet the stringent requirements of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, also known as LEED®, and Fitwel®, a leading certification system committed to building health, demonstrating OUC’s dedication toward implementing practices that aid in protecting the environment while enhancing the physical and mental well-being of its employees.

More  than 40 OUC employees will call the campus home. As the community grows, so too will the campus. Future phases are expected to include an administrative facility and a substation. The project marks a milestone in OUC’s partnership with the City of St. Cloud. In May 1997, the two entered a long-term agreement for OUC to operate and maintain the city’s electric system.