Fort Lauderdale is a city of neighborhoods. Over 50 homeowner's associations, condominium associations and business districts come together to create diversity and charm not seen in many Florida communities. Neighbors are the foundation of many of our green initiatives. Our Green Your Routine volunteers are neighborhood based, as are our Adopt-a-Street and Little Free Library programs. If you have a leadership role in your neighborhood, or are interested in getting involved, consider leading the charge for one of the actions described here. Some of them can even earn money for your neighborhood through our Sustainability Incentive Grants.
Check your bylaws to be sure that nothing precludes green living. Most South Florida association by-laws were created with the idea of maintaining fair, safe and beautiful communities, but those same rules can often prevent individuals from incorporating sustainable solutions in their own spaces. If your community has not done so already, it is a good idea to get the assistance of a knowledgeable professional and review your by-laws to determine if they include any roadblocks. Look for guidelines that would make things like Florida-friendly landscaping, pervious paving, solar energy installations, rain barrels and composting impossible. Many communities are surprised at what they find when they start looking at the rules through "green eyes".
Look at overall energy, water, fuel and materials consumption for common facilities. Communities which share responsibility for maintaining common facilities such as community centers or rooms, swimming pools, street lighting, entrance areas, garages or parking, walkways, and so forth have opportunities to green-up those areas and also to save money for the community in the long term. Consider relatively easy actions such as switching to LED lighting for interior or exterior lights, installing rain sensors on irrigation, and updating shared laundry appliances and bathroom fixtures. Run your swimming pool pumps and heaters the minimum required. Switch to an electric-powered vehicle for security rounds. Encourage alternative transport by adding an electric vehicle charging station and more convenient bicycle parking. If you live in an apartment building with a flat roof, paint it white or consider a green roof to add value and additional community space.
Encourage recycling and waste reduction. This is an easy one! Provide recycling containers in all common areas, and place them so that they are convenient, including in common social areas, at the pool, in mailrooms, in garages and lots, by entrance gates and of course in trash collection areas. Perform an informal survey of your building or neighborhood to determine how many households recycle. Create a fun incentive program to get more people involved, and publish your results so everyone can see. Invite our Solid Waste and Recycling Coordinator to be a guest at one of your meetings. Recruit students to teach recycling or to operate a recycling concierge service. Hold community events like yard sales, swap meets and charity collections to encourage re-use and donation. When you have events, be sure to provide recycling and use as many green-rated products as possible. Pass along information about our city's Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Drop-Off Events. Finally, reduce waste by using electronic billing and communications instead of traditional mail or flyers when possible.
Prevent stormwater pollution. All of the water that runs through your neighborhood's driveways and streets can eventually end up in our waterways. By taking an interest in stormwater run-off you and your neighbors do a great service for our city. How can you help? Educate neighbors about keeping storm drains clean and clear or debris, and set up a volunteer crew to "adopt" each drain. Check gutters to be sure that they send water onto landscaped areas or pavers which allow drainage, and not onto solid concrete or asphalt. If you have an area for car washing, be sure that it has the proper drainage installed. Use our Pet Waste Signage Program to remind dog owners about cleaning up after their pets, or install special waste stations.
Help make cycling safe. Cycling is great exercise, but for it to be an effective way to lower greenhouse gas emissions it needs to be a viable alternative to car travel. Creating safe passage and appropriate facilities for cyclists can encourage people to get our of their cars. Take a look at your neighborhood through cyclist's eyes. Are vehicles blocking paths? Are access gates easy for cyclists to use? Are racks provided in a reasonable location? In neighborhoods with private access roads, is it possible to stripe bicycle lanes?
Create community with a garden and habitats. Make room for a garden in your community and watch as neighbors of all ages come together like never before. The options for planting are numerous: use an open space for an urban farm, plant fruit trees in public areas, use medians for butterfly gardening, plant container habitats to display by your front doors. Your neighborhood is only limited by its imagination and willingness to dig in and work. Gardens can be a source of income when crops or plants are sold at market, are a source of fresh and healthy food, and provide and opportunity for community service when excess crops are donated to food banks or neighbors in need. Wildlife habitats support a diverse native animal population to maintain balance in our ecosystem.
Publicize our green events, and celebrate together. Every month there are things that neighbors can do to help the environment and get to know each other in the process. We publish a calendar of these events, and you can share that calendar on your website or through your community news. In particular, be sure to publicize our Hazardous Waste and Electronics Drop-Off Events and Tree Giveaways, but you can also do much more. Why not go to the waterway clean-up in your area? help us search for air potatoes? Adopt-a-Street nearby? or turn out your lights during Earth Hour? How about a Zero Waste picnic on America Recycles Day, or a tree planting on Arbor Day? Be sure to get the credit you deserve: Share Your Success Story and be sure to get your Sustainability Incentive Grant points.
Support clean boating. If your building or neighborhood has a dock, marina or private boat slips, you have the opportunity to help us spread the word about green boating practices, such as proper pump out, fishing line recycling, and adhering to no wake zones.
Help people go local. Doing business closer to home saves fuel and pumps the local economy. Your neighborhood can support the movement to go local. Create an on-line directory or map of local businesses. You might even earn some advertising dollars! Post directional signs at your entranceways showing distance to local parks, shopping areas and other amenities.
Raise awareness about sea level rise and the importance of climate resiliency. Do a little research to understand your neighborhood's risk given sea level rise predictions. Then, find fun ways to let people know that the issue is important. One way is to create a sea level awareness pole, either real one, one on poster board or even online. This visual aid helps people to see the impact of a few inches, and if posted prominently, it reminds them to try to green their routines. This is a great project for an association board, and also for neighborhood students. On a more serious note, take the time to review the latest Flood Zone maps and to encourage that your neighbors have the correct insurance coverage and are prepared for seasonal rains and storms.