Hallandale Beach City Leaders were quick to recognize that investing in energy and water conservation will generate dividends for today’s taxpayers and establish a foundation for the future. Our strategy is to set the example for business and resident’s; going green saves money.
We are a City of about 37, 000 residents tucked away on the Atlantic Ocean midway between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. In the tourist Mecca that is South Florida, we depend on tourism and business development. Early on, we recognized the need to attract both for the continued growth of Hallandale Beach. The ability to provide essential services through cost-effective programs will meet or exceed the needs of residents and business owners. Efficiency will generate growth.
As the Chairman of the US Conference of Mayors Environmental Standing Committee, I am acutely aware of the need to approach energy saving with an open mind. In Hallandale Beach, we are progressive and aggressive in seeking federal, state and local grants, forging partnerships and participating in co-operatives to expand out Greene programs and reduce costs. A willingness to listen to new concepts and try new conservation measures is a key element of our strategy to make Hallandale Beach an ideal green community.
As a coastal community, Hallandale Beach suffered from poor water quality until the City built a membrane treatment plan to produce potable water. As part of the progress, about 15% of the water is discarded as a concentrate, which we inject several thousand feet in the Earth. That’s millions of gallons of water wasted monthly, and billions of gallons annually. We know there has to be a better way.
Utilizing 50-50 grant, the City is designing and developing a pilot program to reclaim that concentrate and use it as irrigation for parks, golf courses and possibly on the grounds of area schools. It’s not unheard of, but this is the first time the utilization of water treatment concentrate will be tested on a large scale. We will measure the impact in turf, plants trees and shrubs. The initial grants will pay for the pilot program, engineering and design of the distribution system.
Also, we are in the bidding process for a new storm water drainage system for one quadrant of the City. This will quickly divert the water from the surface to a series of wells. However, we asked if there was a better use of the runoff. In another test program, the City hopes to use the runoff as a barrier to stem the westerly intrusion of the saltwater in the aquifer. Tests in controlled environments have been successful, but our hope is to test this on a large scale. Again, it’s new, untested on a large scale, but has the potential to save Hallandale Beach residents, and residents from neighboring communities, hundreds of millions of dollars in future costs. The City is seeking permits from several agencies to begin the test.
As a member of the Broward Water Conservation Partnership, a count program in South Florida, we participate in unified water conservation advertisement campaign as well as numerous rebate programs and water conservation initiatives. A toilet rebate program provides up to $100 for residents and businesses that replace older, high-flow toilets with newer, low-flow models. So far, 64 residents have replaced toilets. The City and Broward Water partnership split the cost of the items, but the water savings pay off for the City and residents. Another water conservation partnership with Broward County includes the NatureScape Irrigation Service, in which high-use irrigation systems are evaluated for efficiency and specific recommendations are provided at no cost to the user.
In addition to the county program, the City has its own, more aggressive program. Dual flow toilet retrofit kits are offered free of charge. Over 1,800 kits have been distributed over the past three years. Also, the City’s program includes free replacement toilet flappers to prevent leakage, low-flow shower heads, shower timers, kitchen and bathroom faucet aerators and low-flow garden hose nozzles.
Community outreach is an invaluable resource to reach the masses. Through the City’s GreenFest, an annual celebration of Arbor Day and Earth Day, the City provides free water conservation devices and distributes free tree to residents. GreenFest also provides the opportunity for residents to learn about energy savings from the local electric and gas utilities and other conservation tips covering everything from electric car charging stations to recycling.
The City’s Green Initiative has become a part of the curriculum for fifth graders at Hallandale Elementary School. Students participate in water savings classroom lessons, take water saving plumbing retrofit kits home and encourage their families to install them. This year alone, we distributed kits to 203 students and nine teachers. We estimate saving 1.2 million gallons a year in the student’s and teacher’s homes. That’s a savings of $6.40 per 1,000 gallons of water used.
Overall, the City has saved more than one billions of gallons of water in the past five years and more than $2 million in production costs.
Hallandale Beach encourages new construction to be “green compliant”. It saves everyone in the long run. Here, we lead by example.
When we established our Green Initiative, we retrofitted City Hall and the Police Department’s lighting systems. It demonstrated we really meant what we said. All the light were replaced with low-energy bubs and all the light fixtures were changed to operate by motion detectors. We recovered the cost quickly and realized a saving of about $2, 500 a month in electric charges.
Our recycling efforts are paying off as well. The City pays $64 per ton to dispose of refuse at the landfill. However, the City is paid $53 for every ton of recycled materials; a $117 swing in favor of the taxpayers.
In another partnership, the City is part of Broward County’s “Go Solar” program. The program encourages builders and roofers to install solar panels on roof tops to reduce power consumption. The program offers federal tax rebates of up to $14, 600 for installing the panels, which are designed to withstand category 2 hurricane-force winds. The Go Solar program, which is available for new construction or remodeling, estimates at least a 60% reduction in energy use in the average building.
This is the area where the City is in its infancy. In the Fiscal Year 2013, we plan to begin converting our solid waste collection trucks from diesel to compressed natural gas (CNG). Working with neighboring cities, we believe the additional costs for CNG trucks will save taxpayers fuel costs, and reduce fuel emissions.
We continue to explore new alternatives to increasing conservation and reducing costs. By working with our elected national and state leaders, and area corporations, we have found partners to help us enhance our green programs.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, Hallandale Beach’s Mayor Joy Cooper.