As Mayor for the city of North Miami, one of the ten best cities in the US as designated by the National Civic league in 2010, we have been faced with daunting challenges to be energy efficient and fiscally responsible during these trying economic times.
Through whatever means possible, whether ARRA funding or policy development, our administration has focused on the creation and implementation of meaningful measures that are environmentally and energy responsive.
The city of North Miami is so focused on becoming and remaining an environmentally sustainable community that it adopted and incorporated into its comprehensive plan a new mission statement strengthening its commitment to enhance the quality of life for all of its residents by providing a clean, green, and sustainable community. The City’s Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted in December of 2007, has established an array of goals and policies to promote and ensure that the City’s built environment is predicated on environmentally sound principles.
Green Policies cover a wide number of elements ranging from land use and housing to conservation and parks development. A significant land use element calls for all newly developed public buildings in the City to be designed and constructed to the standards of LEED Silver and all City funded projects to be at a minimum LEED Certified and/or to any nationally recognized green standards acceptable to the City.
In another significant policy, the City adopted Green Housing Rehabilitation Guidelines, the first in the state of Florida. The Guidelines require that one hundred percent (100%) of federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Home Ownership Opportunities Program (HOME) funds as well as Florida’s State Housing Initiatives Program (SHIP) funds must be used for rehabilitation, redevelopment and construction projects that contribute to the “greening” of the City. Specifically, the guidelines require that all funds spent in these programs be used in a sustainable manner to promote energy efficiency. Incandescent bulbs must be replaced with Energy Star fluorescent bulbs, for example, and only “green” products may be used.
- How much energy does the city/community spend on energy costs each year?
Based on preliminary findings conducted by Johnson Controls using utility data analysis, below is an average annual electricity bill for all twenty (20) city facilities using 2010 data.
|#||Facility||Avg. Annual Electric Bill|
|1||Water Plant||$ 284,106.26|
|2||Police Department||$ 132,950.86|
|4||City Hall||$ 58,559.28|
|6||Thomas Sasso Pool||$ 25,890.62|
|7||Motor Pool||$ 18,248.29|
|8||Sans Souci Tennis Center||$ 14,095.16|
|9||Gwen Margolis Community Center||$ 12,836.27|
|10||Parks Division & Nursery||$ 11,613.72|
|11||Griffing Adult Center||$ 8,868.96|
|12||Utility Operation Center||$ 8,177.96|
|13||Sunkist Grove Community Center||$ 7,460.84|
|14||Utility Operation Center||$ 6,610.54|
|15||Enchanted Forest||$ 4,480.13|
|16||Community Planning||$ 3,931.99|
|17||Utility Operation Center||$ 3,518.05|
|18||Enchanted Forest||$ 2,511.97|
|19||Enchanted Forest||$ 2,050.29|
|20||Keystone Point Community Center||$ 1,587.16|
- What political tools can you take advantage of that will help you make your city more sustainable/energy efficient?
We have identified two crucial tools in its efforts to sustainability: partnerships and education.
The City has partnered with several “green” organizations and has participated in community challenges in particular, the US Conference of Mayor’s 2030 Challenge committing the city to several milestones geared towards reducing energy for all new and renovated buildings by the year 2030.
In 2007, we have also joined with hundreds of other cities across the nation as a member of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability; and we are also members of the US Green Building Council as well as the Florida Green Building Coalition, and have been designated a Florida Green Local Government earning silver level certification as one of only three municipalities in Miami-Dade County to be certified.
A business partnership initiative entails a consideration to provide tax incentives, reduced parking requirements, density and height bonuses or expedited permitting for buildings proposing to be built under LEED standards, especially for buildings proposed on the tiered LEED levels of Platinum, Gold or Silver; and/or any nationally recognized green standards acceptable to the City.
A significant piece of responsible stewardship, calls for our City to provide education programs to our residents about the polluting effects on Biscayne Bay and other natural bodies of water in our community, of run-off containing grass clippings, lawn fertilizers, and other similar type material, as well as current techniques that can be implemented by residents to mitigate this problem.
In addition, since 2008, the City has coordinated a transportation options program, educating employees about transportation options that feature:
- a Miami-Dade Transit Bus Pass – this monthly pass costs $100, but as City employee, the pass is heavily subsidized and is sold to the employee at a reduced cost of only $18.00
- a Tri-Rail Monthly Pass – this monthly pass costs $80, but as City employee, the pass is heavily subsidized and is sold to the employee at a reduced cost of only $18.00
- encouraging car pooling and van pooling, participants will get preferential (designated) parking at the City Hall and are eligible for 6 free taxi rides
- Hybrid Vehicles will also get preferential parking
- Employees to walk or bike to work and become eligible for 6 free taxi rides.
Furthermore, since 2009, our city instituted a reward based recycling program, the first of its kind in Florida, in partnership with RecycleBank, bringing residents a unique program that provides rewards to all residents to promote and encourage recycling.
- What can businesses do to help the city achieve success?
North Miami is a unique and vibrant community with an exciting ethnic and cultural mix. Under our leadership we trust these initiatives will show our commitment to “greening” the community which, in turn, will strengthen a need for stronger green industries to produce products necessary to achieve sustainable environments.
Our vision is to continue not only to use these products, and enhance practices and processes but also to combat the signs of global warming and climate change and to lead by example thereby encouraging all organizations to join the challenge.