Going Green in Government

by Alison Lueders, Great Green Editing

Happy Fourth of July! It seems an appropriate day to pause and consider how our government is addressing sustainability challenges. In fact, government at all levels is taking steps to: (1) overhaul its own operations to save money on things like water, energy and waste (2) regulate activities that impact the environment and (3) invest in green and sustainable initiatives with tax dollars.

Three examples of government taking the initiative around sustainable practices here in Tampa Bay include:

  • The City of Dunedin, which  just had its Florida Green Building Coalition certification upgraded from silver to gold, tying for the state’s top spot with Sarasota County and making Dunedin the highest-ranking green city in Florida.
  • Tampa’s  Riverwalk project, which  received an $11 million TIGER grant to complete the work. This 2.6  mile path along the Hillsborough River will draw walkers, cyclists, and visitors to restaurants, retail stores and more amid a pleasant natural setting. 25 years in the making, we’ll have a safe and scenic path through downtown Tampa – one that is expected to be a real boon to economic development.
  • Tampa’s Green Business Designation Program, in which the City of Tampa partners with the Sustany® Foundation to assess local businesses and award bronze, silver or gold levels. This program will help Tampa reach its goal to become a Certified Florida Green Local Government, as well as fulfill its commitment to the US Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement.

The recent visit from Tropical Storm Debbie is just the latest reminder of how vulnerable we are to severe weather, and how much work remains to be done. Government policies, public/private partnerships and regional compacts among governments all have a role to play in transitioning us to a more sustainable world.

In the spirit of “think globally, act locally“, here are further examples of government action on sustainability:

  • Last month, the “Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative” published its first summary since it started 3 years ago. This carbon cap-and-trade program across 9 northeastern states succeeded in cutting CO2 emissions by 23% compared to the previous 3 year period. It works!
  • On June 21, the US Court of Appeals upheld the EPA’s rules on greenhouse gas emissions. This means that emissions from everything from coal plants to cars can be regulated as threats to human health.
  • The British government announced that it will require the 1800 largest public corporations in that country to report their greenhouse gas emissions starting in 2013. Business people everywhere are taught that “if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it”, so this is a step in the right direction.

Next week, we’ll look at  green initiatives in the health care sector. See you then!