Miami Beach City’s Energy & Sustainability Challenges & Accomplishments

Posted on April 2nd, 2013 by
   

The City of Miami Beach strives to be a leader in energy conservation and sustainable strategies.  While we hope all of our residents, businesses and visitors feel as strongly as we do, the administration and elected officials believe in leading by example.  The City engaged Ameresco to complete a detailed energy audit assessing all City properties and alternative energy generation sources including solar, wind, geo-thermal and other renewable energy sources. With their guidance, the City has recently completed facility lighting and lighting control upgrades, HVAC control retrofits, water fixture replacements, and a geothermal district cooling plant optimization.  Implementing these energy conservation measures provide a net positive cash flow that will generate over $1.1 million in annual energy savings. These are but a few of the strategies that the City is undertaking to reduce energy usage and cost to achieve the City’s conservation goals and plan for a more sustainable future.

The City requires LEED Certification for all new City buildings and, through a voluntary green building ordinance, provides permitting incentives to private development projects that follow LEED guidelines in new construction. The City also initiated City-wide municipality-sponsored bicycle and car share programs. DecoBike has become a model for active transportation in the Country and has been expanded to neighboring cities to enhance connectivity. Hertz On Demand, a program for short-term car rentals from many of the City’s parking facilities, was considered the largest implementation of the car sharing concept in the area. The City also reserves priority parking in our City-owned garages for LEV vehicles and provides electric car charging stations at certain spaces.

We also use our negotiating power with our energy providers to encourage them to be more responsible with their customers. As part of the recent reauthorization of the electrical franchise, we required Florida Power and Light to make our residents more aware of their individual power to conserve.  The HEMI program: Home Energy Makeover Initiative is available to all homeowners and business on a per-request basis. However, the City has taken the lead in organizing makeover “days” targeting entire low-income residential buildings for proactive and intensive attention.

The City also has an ongoing program, in conjunction with Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Department, to exchange low-flow shower and faucet heads on demand.  The City engages multiple user groups through exhibits set up at most City-sponsored events promoting conservation measures and handing out water conservation kits and CFL bulbs making it easy for residents wishing to conserve water and energy.

This past August, in conjunction with our County partners and the not-for-profit Dream in Green Organization, the City hosted a Home Energy Savings Workshop.  The Workshop provided support, in the form of information and tools to empower our residents and business, to make easy changes that have a lasting impact on reducing their carbon footprint.  Participants received an “Energy Savings Toolkit” valued at over $100.00 to assist with their energy upgrades.

I am proud to say that Miami Beach has been selected as one of the two State of Florida’s Energy Economic Zones.   This pilot program will provide incentives to those businesses that have built to LEED Standards, are certified by the States’ Green Lodging Program or participate in the EPA Energy Star Program.  This opportunity will help monetize for business the incentives to become more energy efficient and environmentally conscious in their daily operations.

We hope to continue to set an example for other communities, in ways both large and small, to encourage more recycling, more energy and water conservation and more awareness of our effects on our environment so that we leave a better, cleaner, fresher world for our children and grandchildren.

Written by the Honorable Matti Herrera Bower, Mayor, City of Miami Beach

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