Florida Water Management District Sets Example for Green Initiative

Investing now in a greener future, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) is making environmentally focused changes to improve energy efficiency, reduce water use and take advantage of alternative fuels. These efforts are designed to meet —and exceed—the “green challenge” issued by Governor Charlie Crist earlier this year. The Governor’s executive order directed state agencies to lead by example in reducing greenhouse gases, increasing energy efficiency and pursuing renewable and alternative energy sources.

“The South Florida Water Management District is to be commended for implementing on its own, much of what the Department of Environmental Protection is helping coordinate at the state level,” said Michael W. Sole, Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. “We applaud and congratulate their efforts.”

The District has invested more than $1.3 million on recent facility upgrades, including switching to high-efficiency lighting, retrofitting air conditioner chillers to remove ozone-depleting refrigerants and installing more low-flow, waterless and dual flush bathroom fixtures.

In addition, the District’s vehicle fleet includes 162 vehicles equipped to run on alternative fuels such as ethanol, biodiesel and hybrid-electric. In fiscal year 2008, the number of alternative fueled vehicles will rise to 194, making up 44 percent of all District vehicles.

“The District is taking the lead in adopting green technologies, which goes hand in hand with our environmental restoration initiatives,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Eric Buermann. “We are in the forefront of a growing worldwide movement to reduce greenhouse gases and protect our resources for future generations.”

More green changes at the District are expected in the future through a partnership established with the U.S. Green Building Council, an organization transforming the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated. The District is also working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and has been designated as an “Energy Star Partner.” The EPA’s program provides advice and guidance on how to measure, track and improve energy performance.

“We are grateful to Governor Crist and DEP Secretary Sole for recognizing that Florida is among the states most vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” said SFWMD Executive Director Carol Ann Wehle. “The District has enthusiastically embraced the challenge of becoming the state’s leading agency in eco-friendly practices.”

In the near future, the District plans to adjust land management practices to enhance carbon offsets, install a reflective roof membrane as part of its headquarters roof replacement project, explore green roof and solar panel alternatives, and increase the number of hybrid/alternative fuel vehicles to 50 percent. The District will also continue to exceed native plant requirements for building landscaping, begin using biodegradable paper products and environmentally friendly cleaning solutions, implement eco-friendly building standards in the design and construction of any new facilities and continue the installation of additional plumbing and lighting efficiency measures.

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