Released By Osceola County Public Information Office
Embracing sustainability – from economic to environmental initiatives – means thinking and acting differently in planning for our future. As part of Osceola County’s efforts to create and maintain a community that is healthy and sustainable for the long term, at the Monday, Sept. 9, 2019 meeting of the Osceola County Board of County Commissioners (BCC), Osceola County Director of Strategic Initiatives Jeff Jones presented the BCC with recommendations to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their harmful impact by 2060.
The presentation described the County’s primary GHG emissions sources, provided an estimate of how those emissions could be expected to grow, and recommended goals, policies and actions that the County can implement to achieve GHG reductions and other community benefits, such as increased green job opportunities and improved public health.
It is estimated that 42% of Florida’s GHG emissions result from electrical consumption. An additional 36% is estimated to result from various modes of transportation. The remaining 22% is from other impacts including industrial fuel use and processes (8%), agriculture and forest fires (6%), and most significantly, the methane gases produced by the disposal of solid waste into landfills.
An in-depth discussion of the GHG reduction initiative, which focused on five recommended goals, policies and related actions, will be included in Osceola County’s annual strategic planning exercise in early 2020:
1. Sustainable Land and Use Patterns. Goal: By 2060, Mixed Use Developments (MXD) will make it possible to meet daily needs with fewer and shorter auto trips, reducing traffic emissions by 75%. Policy/Actions: Support the creation of mixed-use developments (MXD) – essentially “live, work and play” neighborhoods – that will lead to daily routines with reduced vehicle miles, and thus, reduced vehicle emissions. Advocate for electric vehicles, mixed use principles, economic development aligned with MXD.
2. Energy Efficiency. Goal: By 2060, new buildings will produce enough renewable energy to meet their annual consumption requirements. Policy/Actions: Decrease the use of electricity and promote energy conservation through energy efficient buildings and facilities (public and private sector). Obtain green building certifications; Retrofit County buildings; Amend LDC; Promote rainwater harvesting; Invest in Solar power and Green roofs; support PACE/Home renovation programs
3. Water Conservation. Goal: By 2060, per-capita potable water consumption is reduced by 30%. Policy/Actions: Promote public and private programs that encourage water conversation, including the use of Florida-friendly landscaping and best-practice fertilizer ordinances, as well as the continued acquisition of sensitive lands and coordination with Water Management Districts.
4. Waste Reduction. Goal: By 2060, the County eliminates sending solid waste to the landfill. Policy/Actions: Promote a strategy of reduce, reuse, and recycle that minimizes waste production and maximizes recycling; Promote construction & demolition recycling; Encourage reusable bags; Reduce landscape waste; Donate excess produce; Expand recycling to multifamily; Support composting program, as well as recycling/composting at public events.
5. Adapt to environmental change. Goal: Minimize vulnerability to the consequences of changes to the natural environment by increasing the County’s ability to deal with the impacts of environmental change. Policy/Actions: Create a strongly engaged public/citizenry through education and advocacy; Increase urban tree cover; Implement Urban Forest Management Plan; Build strong partnerships with best-practice organizations; Manage fire hazard areas.
The GHG reduction initiative builds on other significant sustainability and green initiatives undertaken by Osceola County:
· In 2018, Osceola County was awarded the Florida Green Government Certification. That certification recognized the County’s efforts to conserve and protect natural resources (including efforts to reduce the cost of operating the government, thus reducing the cost to taxpayers), as well as efforts to improve the sustainability of business practices and operations, and increase awareness in the community about environmental stewardship.
· The GHG reduction initiative will also build upon the County’s 2017 “Strategies for a Sustainable Future” report – the county’s award-winning, forward-thinking, comprehensive sustainability plan.