Sustainability in City Operations
One goal of the sustainability program is to support policies and projects within city operations that decrease negative environmental impacts while balancing economic development and social equity issues. The Sustainability program has many current efforts underway to make it's operations and buildings more efficient, with new projects planned for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Below is a summary of some of the City's internal efforts:
Green Team- The City of Sarasota has an active green team, with liaisons from 14 departments implementing projects to improve the efficiency of city operations. The team is helping to create a city-wide sustainability strategic plan and helping spread education throughout departments.
Fleet- The City of Sarasota has a policy to consider hybrids when it replaces city fleet vehicles. The City also has a non-idling policy in non-emergency situations in an effort to decrease tailpipe emissions and unnecessary fuel use. The parking division utilizes electric vehicles to monitor parking compliance and also manages 5 city-owned electric vehicle charging stations available for free public use.
Energy Efficiency- In 2010 the City began a guaranteed energy performance contract to modernize some city facilities and upgrade aging infrastructure. The project was completed in 2012 and after 3 years of monitoring, the city has saved over $4 million in both direct energy costs and operational savings. Energy upgrades include new HVAC system, LED streetlights, occupancy sensors in conference rooms, low-flush toilets, and automated water meter readers for city households. The City is currently exploring doing another phase of energy efficiency upgrades.
Planning-The planning and transportation departments stay up-to-date on best practices for planning the city for sustainable growth. Whether it be planning for round-abouts, bike lanes, sidewalks, street trees, or mixed-used development, the planning department strives to build a city that works well for the environment and the people living within it. The Urban Design Studio is currently working on a form based code to directly respond to the challenges associated with urban sprawl, deterioration of historic neighborhoods, and the need for safe and efficient multi-modal transportation options for pedestrians and cyclists.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction- The City of Sarasota recently completed a community-wide Greenhouse Gas Inventory and there's good news! Since 2003, there has been an overall 22% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to 2015. The greenhouse gas emission sources included in this study came from the purchased electricity in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors, vehicle miles traveled on city-wide roads, water and wastewater processes, and solid waste. In 2015 the City of Sarasota generated 665,662 Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide equivalents (MT CO2e). This is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions produced by 140,600 passenger vehicles for one year! The only emission source that increased since 2003 was vehicle emissions. There was a 2.5% increase in vehicle emissions from 2003 to 2015. Although it is assumed vehicles are generally more efficient in 2015, there were 10% more vehicles miles driven on Sarasota roads than in 2003. Click here to read the executive summary and here to read the technical report.
The City has also completed a Greenhouse Gas Inventory for City operations. The report is being finalized and will be posted her when completed.
Green Building- The City does offer fast track permitting for LEED or Florida Green Building Standard projects. Additionally, the City of Sarasota's Police Department is a LEED certified building.
Renewable Energy- The city received a solar installation on the roof of Save our Seabirds (a city-owned site) through the renewable energy agreement with Florida Power and Light. Additionally, the City installed solar panels on top of the Palm Avenue garage. The City is currently assessing the feasibility of installing solar within other city facilities.
Greenspace- The City's Park/Landscape Maintenance Division plans, designs, builds and maintains over 50 parks and open spaces for the use and enjoyment of the citizens of Sarasota. The City also has a progressive Downtown Greenspace Policy to encourage a compact, mixed-use urban core with walkable streets, parks and green spaces, and urban nature. The City also recently revised and strengthened it's tree protection ordinance.