According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, buildings in the United States generally account for 72% of electricity consumption and 40% of raw material use. Transportation accounts for 28% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Irrigation, especially of non-native grass and landscaping, is the biggest draw on a water system.
As a City full of buildings and roadways and planned greenery, Fort Lauderdale absolutely should be concerned with these numbers and what they mean for us, especially when it comes to emissions. Fossil fuel based energy consumption produces GHG emissions which are thought to drive the global warming trend.
- The asphalt and concrete in our city, combined with GHG emissions, produce a “heat island effect” which drives up temperatures compared to our more suburban and rural neighbors.
- Air conditioning, a necessity in our semi-tropical climate, can produce ozone threatening chemical emissions if systems are out-of-date, and even up to date systems can be responsible for vast water and energy consumption.
- Our historically car dependent society has not yet made a significant move to alternative fuels or mass transportation, meaning even more GHG emissions.
- Food waste in transfer stations and landfills produces damaging methane gas, another GHG.
All of this is neither good for our health, nor for the health of our wildlife and natural ecosystems which are the foundation of our tourism industry.
All of this consumption is not good for our pocketbooks either. High demand for energy and fuel pushes up the prices of those commodities. High demand for water, coupled with run-off pollution, drives up the cost of maintaining our City’s pipelines and plants. High demand for waste removal and processing drives up those costs as well. We all end up paying in one way or another.
Yet change is taking place in Fort Lauderdale. Our residents, businesses and students are beginning to take hold of one of the most basic aspects of sustainability. If we track our resource usage, and work on driving down that usage, we do good for the environment, our health, our infrastructure, and our local economy-- all while lowering costs.
Our First Assessment
The City’s first GHG inventory shows the beginning of a trend towards lower emissions both in the residential sector and city-wide. Per capita emissions for the residential market were calculated to be 7.30MT (Metric Tons) CO2e (Equivalent Carbon Dioxide) in 2010 and were down to 6.69 MT CO2e by 2012. City-wide, per capita GHG emissions were 17.08 MT CO2e in 2010 and fell to 15.65 MT CO2e in 2012.
There are two things we all need to do to continue a downward trend:
- Learn how to conserve and avoid resource consumption. In the last century, conservation was equated with “doing without.” Today, conservation means being creative about the way we live and work and travel and play to be sure that we don’t use resources unnecessarily.
- Be more efficient, and get more out of fewer resources. This means using technology to do things more efficiently, modernizing outdated systems, and reducing resource waste.
This section of our website provides more information on how consumption impacts us, how purchasing can be aligned with sustainability goals, as well as links to programs, services and helpful tips for water, energy, fuel and materials conservation and efficiency.