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Florida Local Government Green Standard Released

Florida city and county governments can now become certified “green,” thanks to a new environmental certification program established by the state energy office that recognizes and rewards cities and counties for making environmental stewardship a priority in functions performed by the local government.

The Florida Green Local Government Standard was created by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), working under a contract from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Florida Energy Office. A number of organizations and agencies served as subcontractors or reviewers. The new standard is a certification program that considers the entire environmental impact of local governments, and it could be one of the first all-encompassing green standards programs in the nation according to the state. It evaluates environmental practices done “in-house,” incentives and ordinances to foster green practices, and educational activities to improve the environment. “Local governments are ideally positioned to demonstrate sustainable practices in their own operations and to promote green behaviors by their residents,” said Doug Yoder, assistant director of the Miami-Dade Environmental Resources Management Department. “This standard gives practical definition to these ideas and makes possible a true grassroots movement to green the entire state.” Eric Martin, a senior research engineer at the FSEC, explained that “Almost every function of a local government has an impact on the environment and thus this is an extremely comprehensive standard, presenting best management practices for functions including building and development, natural resources management, emergency services, economic development, public works, and waste management.” The standard also provides credit for utilizing other statewide and national green standards such as FGBC’s green commercial and institutional, green home, and green development standards; the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Clean Marina and Green Lodging Programs, and the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program. To help city and county governments with the process, FSEC created a spreadsheet tool that helps local champions track the progress towards certification. “City and county governments will be interested in achieving the designation not only for recognition and publicity, but also in the interest of functioning in a more efficient manner though better internal communication, dollar savings and effective risk and asset management,” said Robin Vieira, Director of Buildings Research at FSEC. FGBC hopes the standard will eventually serve as a metric for state government to use in creating incentives for certified green local governments.