Florida county introduces plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Osceola County in Florida is joining a growing number of communities across the country taking aim at reducing greenhouse gas emissions through a multi-point plan of action.
Osceola County Director of Strategic Initiatives Jeff Jones has presented the board of county commissioners with a long-term plan to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2060.
The presentation described the county’s primary GHG emissions sources, provided an estimate of how those emissions could be expected to grow, and recommended goals, policies and actions that the county can implement to achieve GHG reductions and other community benefits, such as increased green job opportunities and improved public health.
One portion of the five-point plan involves constructing new buildings that are able to produce enough renewable energy to meet their annual consumption requirements. The county plans to do this by decreasing the use of electricity and promoting energy conservation through energy-efficient buildings and facilities, both public and private.
The plan includes several other points of action related to construction, including obtaining green building certifications, retrofitting county buildings, promoting rainwater harvesting, investing in solar power and “green roofs,” and supporting federal Property Assessed Clean Energy Programs.
Another focus area of the plan is tackling the amount of solid waste being sent to landfill. The county plans to promote strategies surrounding reducing, reusing and recycling material.
Other areas of focus for reducing waste include promoting construction and demolition (C&D) recycling, encouraging reusable bags, reducing landscape waste, donating excess produce, expanding recycling to multi-family households and supporting composting and recycling programs at public events.
Other planned areas of action include:
Creating mixed-used developments in an attempt to reduce residents’ car trips with an aim to reduce traffic emissions in Osceola County by 75 percent. The county plans to do this by advocating for mixed-use developments in conjunction with economic development and electric vehicles.
Reducing per-capita potable water consumption by 30 percent. The county plans to do this by promoting public and private programs that encourage water conservation, including the use of Florida-friendly landscaping and best-practice fertilizer ordinances, as well as the continued acquisition of sensitive lands and coordination with state water management districts.
Minimizing vulnerability to the consequences of changes to the natural environment by increasing the county’s ability to deal with the impacts of environmental change. The county plans to do this by engaging the public through education and advocacy, increasing urban tree cover, implementing an urban forest management plan, building strong partnerships with best-practice organizations, and managing fire hazard areas.
The county’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions builds upon other sustainability and green initiatives in recent years, including the county’s Florida Green Government Certification in 2018 and its “Strategies for a Future” report, released in 2017.
It is estimated that 42 percent of Florida’s GHG emissions result from electrical consumption, according to the county. An additional 36 percent is estimated to result from various modes of transportation. The remaining 22 percent is from other impacts including industrial fuel use and processes (8 percent), agriculture and forest fires (6 percent) and, most significantly, the methane gases produced by the disposal of solid waste into landfills.