Though we have been working towards a more sustainable City for many years, the Sustainability Division (SD) was formed in 2012 to consolidate resources around this goal. Its charge is to promote, encourage, facilitate and implement environmental, economic and socially responsible practices such as conservation, efficiency, preservation, preparedness, and systemic thinking within City operations and in the larger community. In just its first year, the City reduced its electric usage by 317,000 kilowatt hours, rolled out nearly 40,000 recycling carts to homeowners, and gave away and planted over 600 new trees.
The SD achieves its mission by doing away with the traditional municipal model and focusing on innovation. It brings together existing staff under one “umbrella” and challenges them to work together to re-think their operations. Not only is the charge to provide services with the highest attention to quality, cost control and safety, but also to look at those services through the lens of sustainability and see if “greening” them can actually improve performance. What happens, for example, when we team up Energy Management with Urban Forestry? Our innovative Save a Tree, Plant a Tree initiative! How about Hazardous Waste Disposal with Fleet Operations? A new environmental management system pilot designed to meet rigorous ISO14001 standards.
By creating an “umbrella of sustainability,” we are managing our public works not just to provide basic service or comply with the law, but also to reduce environmental impact, to maintain the livability of our City, and to reduce the costs of these operations through innovative best green management practices.
Strategic and Operational Roles
With a small, talented and resourceful staff, the SD achieves its mission through collaboration with other departments, vendor relationships, our Green Your Routine Volunteers, our Sustainability Advisory Board, our Green Team, and partnerships with neighborhoods, businesses, schools and other organizations. It has both strategic and operational roles.
From a strategic point of view, the SD has five responsibilities:
- Lead implementation, monitoring and update of our City’s Sustainability Action Plan. This vital document lays out strategies for protecting critical natural resources, remaining resilient to the effects of climate change and reducing our impact on the environment.
- Partner with local, regional, State and Federal entities in reaching common sustainability goals and addressing common environmental challenges.
- Serve as an environmental center of excellence—introducing opportunities and innovations to City management, and providing knowledge and resources to the various departments as they work toward their sustainability goals.
- Formulate incentive programs and recommend ordinance changes to encourage and facilitate sustainable growth.
- Engage in community outreach to educate our citizens about climate resiliency, energy/water/fuel and materials conservation and efficiency, recycling and waste reduction, transportation and connectivity, smart building and land use, and natural resource and habitat preservation.
From an operational point of view, the SD has five responsibilities:
- Climate Adaptation and Planning, including administration of all climate related planning, grants and pilots, and serving as the liaison to Sustainable Development.
- Environmental Protection and Stormwater Management, including beach renourishment, overseeing the City’s stormwater infrastructure, policies, rates and ordinances, and all environmental regulatory programs.
- Natural Environment Preservation, including maintaining and growing the City’s urban canopy, expanding Florida-friendly landscaping, supporting wildlife protection, and serving as liaison to Parks and Recreation.
- Waste and Recycling, including provisioning of sanitation, recycling and other waste removal services, as well as exploring innovations to reduce waste in residential, commercial and public-space sectors.
- Climate Mitigation, including managing our fleet, monitoring the City’s greenhouse gas emissions, implementing innovative programs to reduce our overall consumption of electricity and fuel, and serving as liaison to Transportation & Mobility.