Board of County Commissioners
Leon County, Florida

www.leoncountyfl.gov
Agenda Item
Executive Summary


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Title:
Acceptance of the FY09 Fourth Quarter Status Report on the County Sustainability Program

Staff:
Parwez Alam, County Administrator
Vincent S. Long, Deputy County Administrator
Maggie Theriot, Office of Sustainability


Issue Briefing: 

This item seeks Board acceptance of the status report on the activities of the County’s Sustainability Program for the fourth quarter of FY09.  The report contains a brief summary of community engagement and education efforts, and updates on major initiatives, both recently completed and pending.

 

 

Fiscal Impact:  

This item has no fiscal impact to the County.

 

 

Staff Recommendation: 
Option #1:       Accept the FY09 fourth quarter status report on the County Sustainability Program.

 


Report and Discussion

 

Background:

Leon County’s sustainability efforts are centrally coordinated through the Office of Sustainability.  The office serves to lead internal government operations toward a more sustainable future and works to support sustainability efforts within the community.  The Office of Sustainability provides leadership, education, policy analysis, project development, and measurement and accountability for the County’s sustainability efforts.  These activities are primarily the responsibility of the Sustainability Coordinator, although the support and assistance of other County divisions is critical to the successful development and implementation of the Program’s objectives.  The following are examples of divisions which have made significant contributions over the past quarter: County Administration, Facilities Management, Planning, Fleet Management, Cooperative Extension, and Solid Waste Management, which includes Recycling Services.  Additionally, the assistance of multiple college-level interns has been utilized.  These creative volunteers have contributed to research, data collection, and program development.

 

The Office of Sustainability provides the fourth quarter status report of activities occurring during the months of August through November of 2009.  Due to the recent creation of the Program, this report is the second quarterly status report, the first of which was provided to the Board on August 25, 2009.

 

Analysis:

This report serves as a tool to keep the Board apprised of the successes and efforts of the County’s Sustainability Program.  The status information is arranged within three primary categories:
1) Resource Conservation & Green House Gas Monitoring, 2) Policy & Administration, and
3) Civic Engagement. 

 

Resource Conservation & Green House Gas (GHG) Monitoring

Energy conservation is a key function of the Office of Sustainability.  Conservation not only reduces the emissions of GHG but also saves on operating and maintenance cost.  Staff is continuously working to remain educated on the latest technology and maintenance methods to operate the County’s buildings, vehicle fleet, parks, and solid waste facility. 

 

The following are some initiatives taking place with the intent of energy and resource conservation.  As initiatives are implemented, the impact of each will be closely monitored for energy and resource savings as well as the reduction of GHG.  The results will be included in future quarterly status reports.


 

·            Rain Water Reuse – Recently, the limitations and opportunities for rain water reuse in County facilities have been explored.  Assessment during the fourth quarter has focused on the Cooperative Extension building located at 615 Paul Russell Road.  The Office of Sustainability has participated as an active member in the Multi-County Extension Advisory Committee for Climate Change & Sustainable Living, hosted by the Leon County Cooperative Extension.  One of the central tasks of the committee is to explore opportunities to expand the role of the Leon County Extension Center as a sustainable living demonstration center.  Through collaboration with the Leon County Extension Office, the Leon County Office of Sustainability and volunteers are working to develop a “Green Demonstration Center.”  Significant study has occurred in the area of rain water capture for reuse in irrigation of the gardens. 

 

The team’s goal is to implement an underground cistern which could capture rainwater runoff from the roof and store it until the gardens require irrigation.  It was necessary to determine the amount of rainwater able to be captured, the collection method and the disbursement volume of the water upon reuse.  It is estimated that the Extension demonstration gardens utilize a total of 580,000 gallons of irrigated water annually.  The roof was measured and using average rainfall statistics it is estimated that more than 400,000 gallons of rain fall onto the roof annually.  With this information it was clear that by diverting the ‘wasted’ rainfall to storage, a large portion of the irrigation needs can be augmented by redistributing the stored rainwater when the gardens become dry. 

 

Storage can occur in various containers such as concrete cisterns, much like ones used for septic tanks.  However, in efforts to make the project as sustainable as possible, a study was conducted to locate alternative storage units which could be used as a cistern.  It was determined that the tanks used to store gasoline at a gas station would be a good size.  Pending state policy requires that all single-lined underground gas tanks be replaced with double-lined tanks by December 31, 2009.  As a result many single-lined tanks all over the state are being removed and replaced with updated units.  The old tanks are largely being crushed and disposed of.  The team determined a used tank could be slightly modified to serve as a rainwater cistern allowing for reuse of an item which was destined for disposal.  The tanks are available in 5,000 gallon units.  With a storage goal of 20,000 gallons, four tanks would be needed.

 

With the support of Facilities Management the property elevation was assessed to determine the ideal location for the rain water cisterns.  The team has determined that the tanks could be obtained for free, however professional cleaning of each unit would be necessary to safely remove the petroleum remnants.  Additional research is occurring to determine the cost of such work and to design the operation of the tank’s water pumps.  Staff will provide further updates as the assessment continues.

 

·            Parks Recycling – Staff have completed their efforts to introduce recycling to six County athletic park facilities (Canopy Oaks, Ft. Braden, J. Lee Vause, Chaires, Woodville, and Miccosukee) and five community centers (Woodville, Miccosukee, Chaires, Ft. Braden, Bradfordville).  Each location has received multiple receptacles known as ‘ClearStreams’ that have clear sides so others can view the recyclables.  Staff has found that the visual impact of clear bins results in higher recycling rates and reduced trash contamination.  Additionally, each athletic park facility has been outfitted with a large recycling collector bin for service by Solid Waste staff.  It is anticipated that collection rates will be tracked and reported in future status reports.

 

·            Park Athletic Field Lighting – A study of athletic field lighting is currently underway for four facilities (Canopy Oaks, Ft. Braden, J. Lewis Hall, Miccosukee).  Each facility has multiple fields that are being examined and prioritized for energy-efficient lighting fixture upgrades and programmable controls.  Initial review of fixture options reveals that new technology, which is far more energy efficient, is currently in development but not yet affordable and cost effective.  It is anticipated that these new products will reach the market in 2012.  As a result, staff will likely recommend moving forward on controls in the current fiscal year, but wait to pursue fixtures until the technology and cost evolves.  Recommendations will be made at the completion of the study.

 

·            LEED Certification of the Eastside Branch Library – As directed by the Board, the Eastside Branch Library will be designed and constructed to LEED standards.  Staff is working closely with the architectural firm during the design phase to maximize the LEED attributes of the building.  The building is intended to serve as a local demonstration center of creative and functional ways to build sustainably.  With this in mind, staff is assessing the opportunity to design and implement a gazebo in which the roof will be made of solar panels to power the landscape lighting.  With education in mind, a table could be placed in the gazebo in which a description of solar would be sealed into the surface to the tabletop.

  

·            County Building Recycling – County staff is working towards a goal of implementing a uniform recycling program throughout all County facilities.  The program would cover both paper and co-mingle (cans and bottles).  The uniformity will allow for consistency of standard operating procedures and likely increase recycling participation rates.  Efforts have begun in the Courthouse and are currently expanding into the Bank of America building.  Additional buildings that will be targeted in the near future are Public Works and Amtrak. In addition to providing uniform collection bins, staff will implement ‘Recycling 101’ training to occupants in the targeted buildings.  The training will cover the basics of what can and cannot be recycled and the proper methods in doing so.  A test session was conducted with a group of County employees.  The participants found the training very helpful, which is now evident through improved recycling rates. 

 

·            Agenda Packet Paper Reduction – On October 27, 2009 the Board approved an adjustment to the distribution of the Board agenda by reducing the production of printed paper copies.  A reduction of 29 agenda packets became effective as of the November 10, 2009 Board meeting.  Through the reduction of production costs an annual savings of approximately $7,300 is anticipated as well as a reduction of lifecycle environmental impacts. 


 

Monitoring

Each of the initiatives is anticipated to result in a reduction of both operating costs and GHG emissions.  To ensure the green house gas emission reduction goals of the sustainability program are implemented effectively, it is important to develop systems for monitoring implementation, measuring results, keeping track of changing conditions, taking advantage of new information and ideas, and revising program targets and plans as needed.  Various databases will be used in order to track energy and emissions.  Each of these will require significant data collection and input to initiate the database, and then once established, require less effort and time.  The following is a description of the tasks taking place for the primary database resources needed to ‘feed information’ into other more broad reaching systems.

 

·            Utility Manager – Staff is working to centralize the payment and processing of utility service invoices to a single source.  Efforts are continuing to coordinate with utility providers to produce a customized electronic file of all County account activity to be uploaded to Utility Manager.  A test data upload has been performed and the data is being finalized. 

 

·            Fuel Management System – This tool will allow staff to track fuel consumption patterns with far greater accuracy.  A purchase order has been secured for the installation of approximately 200 units, which is to occur over the coming months.  Data will be reviewed as each unit is installed to begin efforts to identify under-performing vehicles and possible inefficiencies caused by the operator.  This will be followed by targeted maintenance or employee education in efforts to improve the vehicle performance.  

 

Policy & Administration

Various efforts have contributed to laying the foundation of the sustainability program that will guide the program goals and funding into the future.  The sustainability policy is currently in draft form.  Staff is working to finalize the proposed policy and present it to the Board for consideration in the near future.  The policy will provide guidance for government operations to function more sustainably in areas such as procurement, building operations, and vehicle usage.

 

·            Solar Implementation - Policy and program analysis has included the assessment of solar opportunities for Leon County’s governmental operations and its citizens.  Staff is currently working to conduct an assessment of each County building and plans to identify the best candidates for solar as well as potential demonstration projects incorporating various forms of solar technology.  The demonstration projects are currently being assessed for power production potential and cost analysis.  The result of this study will be shared with the Board in the near future.

 

·            Growing Green Website - The County has launched a test version of a fully refurbished ‘Growing Green’ website for Leon County (www.leoncountyfl.gov/GrowingGreen).  Staff has nearly completed a thorough overhaul of the site, making it an engaging and informative resource to the Leon County community.  In efforts to provide the much needed interface quickly, staff has launch a ‘mini version’ of the site which incorporates the most critical aspects of the site.  When fully launched visitors can learn how to live more sustainably, see highlights of County’s initiatives and accomplishments, and view upcoming news and events.  In addition, a rich selection of resources and documents will be made available.   

 

·            Sustainability Task Force - On May 26, 2009 the Board requested an agenda item to consider the establishment of a citizen task force to guide the County in topics relating to sustainability.  In response to the Board’s request, staff provided a draft enabling resolution and proposed task force format as part of the August 25, 2009 Quarterly Status Report on the County Sustainability Program.  Within the agenda item, it was revealed that the City of Tallahassee was also working to establish a task force for much of the same purpose.  The Board then directed staff to cooperate with the City of Tallahassee to establish a joint Sustainability Task Force. Per Board direction, County staff reached out to the City of Tallahassee in pursuit of exploring the formation of a joint sustainability task force.  It was confirmed that the County task force will have a similar function and membership as the City task force, with the primary exception that the City task force will report directly to the City Manager.  As communicated through City staff, the City Manager does not wish to pursue a joint task force.  As a result, the City and County will form separate task forces both having analogous purpose and composition.  In reaction to the inability to form a joint task force, staff is resuming its efforts to establish a County task force through an agenda item during the December 8, 2009 Board meeting. 

 

·            Vehicular Idle Reduction - Idle reduction is another Board-directed task in which staff is actively pursuing.  A resolution to recognize the importance of reducing vehicular idling was approved by the Board at the August 25, 2009 meeting.  On November 10, 2009 Leon County participated in a news conference to launch the “Idle Free Tallahassee-Leon” Community Campaign.  The goals of the Campaign are to educate the residents of Leon County about the adverse impacts of unnecessary idling of motor vehicles and equipment and to urge residents to reduce or eliminate unnecessary idling.  The Campaign will be implemented and coordinated with the City of Tallahassee, State of Florida, Leon County Schools, Capital Regional Medical Center and a number of other community organizations and businesses.  Commissioner Desloge and Commissioner Thaell, as well as many other community leaders, were in attendance.

 

·            Weatherization Loan Program - Staff, as directed by the Board, is working to create a proposed program for low-interest financial assistance for weatherization of homes in unincorporated Leon County.  Through an agenda item during the December 8, 2009 Board meeting, staff requests Board consideration of deployment of a pilot weatherization revolving loan program.  The pilot will provide for up to 100 home audits and assess the public interest for participation in a low-interest loan program to implement weatherization enhancements.  If a minimum of 1/3 of the pilot participants express interest in pursuing the loan, staff will return to the Board for consideration to establish the revolving fund. 

 

·            Carbon Credits - On October 13, 2009 the Board approved the sale of carbon credits associated with the Landfill gas collection treatment system.  The County can now earn carbon credits as the gas system destroys methane gas.  In turn the credits will be sold on the open market at a profit of $53,900 annually.  Over a twenty year period the sale of credits will result in over $1 million in revenue to the County.  This proactive approach has gained the attention of many other landfill operators.  Additionally, during the same Board meeting, a bid for yard debris management services was approved, providing for debagging, screening, grinding, and removal of debris at the Solid Waste Facility.

 

·            Community Gardens – Per Board direction, staff has begun to explore opportunities to host community gardens on County owned properties.  Several criteria were established in order to identify ideal property.  Staff found that 22 sites met the minimal criteria established.  From there the properties were narrowed to 13 which were deemed worthy of site visits. As a result of the on-site assessments, a few properties were ruled out due to environmental features or infrastructure obstacles.  As a result, a needs assessment was conducted for the top three most suitable sites.  It is envisioned that these sites may serve as a pilot program to determine community engagement and program success.  This topic will be presented to the Board during the December 8, 2009 workshop on sustainability for further Board direction. 

 

 

Staff feels strongly that partnership and collaboration are keys to the success of the Leon County Sustainability Program.  As a result, efforts are routinely made to reach out to others in the community and beyond.  Many strong alliances and partnerships have been forged, with more being sought.  Partnerships of various kinds have been developed as reported in the prior status report.  Additional partnerships have evolved with Tallahassee Community College, Knight Creative Communities Initiative (KCCI), the historic Willis Dairy, and LCSB Small Business Enterprise.  These partnerships will continue to provide synergy among our mutual interests. 

 

As a part of the “stimulus response team,” the Office of Sustainability has researched and tracked various stimulus-funding opportunities.  An outline of staff’s efforts and contributions is as follows.

 

 

·        Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) - Staff is currently awaiting release of the official policy and guidelines for the grant, which are anticipated by the end of 2009.  It is known that the maximum award will be $1.2 million. 

 

·        Climate Showcase Communities - Staff submitted a grant application for an opportunity known as Climate Showcase Communities, sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency.  The grant would provide funding for the implementation of a compost biofilter to achieve a reduction of 1,666 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from the landfill.  This reduction would encapsulate methane which is not currently captured through the landfill gas collection and treatment system. Unfortunately the County was notified that the application was not selected for funding.  Members of the stimulus response team then participated in a debriefing of the selection process with an EPA staff member.  The justification provided during the conference call was limited in detail.  However, staff has identified two areas of opportunity for improvement in future project applications.  Staff will continue to seek grant funding opportunities for the compost biofilter.

·           

·        Petroleum Reduction Technologies - The Leon County School Board has been actively pursuing grant funding for construction of a compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel filling station for use in their school bus fleet.  A grant opportunity through the Department of Energy was identified for the project.  However, the School Board was not considered a qualified applicant and, therefore, unable to compete for the Clean Cities program grant; whereas, County government was a qualified applicant.  As a result, the County formed a partnership to formulate and submit the $8.8 million grant request on the School Board’s behalf.  Unfortunately the County was notified that the application was not selected for funding.  The School Board will continue to seek grant funding opportunities for the CNG filling station, and County staff will assist as needed.

 

Each of the aforementioned opportunities have involved various conference calls, public hearings, meetings with state and county officials, research and policy analysis, in order to position Leon County for successful receipt of funds.  Staff will continue to monitor various other grant funding opportunities.

 

Civic Engagement  

As a key resource for sustainable actions, both internally and in the community, the Office of Sustainability serves as a liaison to local, state, federal, and nonprofit groups.  The Office partners with government entities, businesses, and individual citizens on a routine basis.  This partnership is critical to the success of any sustainability quest.  Staff has worked to make strides to cooperate and communicate with other governmental bodies, community groups and individual citizens to exchange experiences, knowledge, and program strategies.

 

In addition to the program development, staff has placed a strong focus on the importance of the community outreach.  On a regular basis, the Office presents sustainability information to civic groups, participates in peer-to-peer exchanges, and hosts educational events.  When possible, staff participates in community events, which provide a platform to engage and educate citizens.   

 

·         Green Living Expo - Through Board approved sponsorship of the Green Living Expo, hosted by Tallahassee Builder’s Association, the County was allotted a display booth at the event.  County staff used the opportunity to promote our recycling program, including household hazardous waste and electronic recycling.  Given the location of the event was in the Costco’s parking lot, the event drew many curious onlookers who were not aware of Expo.  This provided a fantastic opportunity to reach out to many citizens who were new to the concept of ‘green living’.

 

·         America Recycles Day - America Recycles Day is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle and to buy recycled products. Leon County and the City of Tallahassee teamed up to celebrate America Recycles Day with the annual “Cans for Cash” collection event. Residents brought aluminum beverage cans and were be paid $0.30 per pound. Schools competed for the most cans collected.

 

·         Focus The Nation - The FSU Environmental Service Program hosted a ‘Focus the Nation’ discussion panel on global climate change to educate students, community members, and local lawmakers on the issue of global climate change.  County staff participated along side Representiative Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda in dialog on the opportunties to impact climate change on a local and state level.

 

·         North Florida Fair – A new attraction was added to the 2009 fair, the Green Living building.  This was an opportunity for community groups to participate in a booth expo.  Leon County participated throughout the fair utilizing staff from the Recycling program, Household Hazardous Waste and the Office of Sustainability to host the booth.  Staff answered questions regarding sustainability and recycling and promoted our programs as well.

 

·         Sustainable Communities Summit 2010 - In efforts to build upon our successful County efforts from the 2008 Climate Action Summit, the Sustainable Communities Summit 2010 is intended to educate attendees of the benefits and necessity for developing and maintaining a sustainable community.  Staff is proposing a summit in the first week of May 2010. Local sustainable food and sustainable economic development are anticipated to be the main topics of the 2010 Summit. The format will be similar to that of the 2008 Climate Action Summit consisting of an opening general session, breakout sessions, and a luncheon with a keynote speaker.  When feasible, aspects of the Summit will be hosted in a sustainable way.   Additional status reports will be provided to the Board as plans for the Summit progress.

 

 

In less than a year after the establishment of a full-time Sustainability Coordinator, many valuable steps have been taken toward Leon County’s goal of becoming a sustainable organization.  The progress of these initiatives will continue to be highlighted through quarterly status reports to the Board. 

 

Options:

1.      Accept the FY09 fourth quarter status report on the County Sustainability Program.

2.      Do not accept the FY09 fourth quarter status report on the County Sustainability Program.

3.      Board Direction.

 

 

Recommendation:

Option #1