Green government designation goes to Florida county
St. Lucie County, on the east coast of central Florida, is now a certified “Green County,” joining the ranks of five other Florida counties to receive the recognition from the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC).
The FGBC uses a standard criteria to evaluate performance in implementing policies and programs in the areas of energy, water, air, land, waste and education/awareness. St. Lucie County submitted a several-hundred-page application to the FGBC in September 2009. It was evaluated using a point system, with St. Lucie County achieving gold level certification for its stewardship and sustainability initiatives. St. Lucie County is currently tied with Indian River County for the third highest score in the FGBC application process.
Many of the policies and programs that led to St. Lucie County’s gold level score had been in place for some time prior to initiating the certification process, including the environmentally significant lands program, innovative land planning codes and policies, and educational and community outreach programs. Additional credits were earned from recently adopted policies and programs, including the county’s implementation of environmentally preferred purchasing standards, green cleaning and landscaping policies, databases to track green certified buildings, and recruiting for an energy and water manager position to coordinate green programs and track resultant cost savings.
The recommendation to pursue green local government certification came from the St. Lucie County Sustainability Advisory Committee (SAC), an advisory board commissioned by the St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners. “Becoming a Green County is much more than developing a stewardship mindset within county government,” said SAC Chairman Alan Gilbert, executive director of Facilities and Maintenance for the St. Lucie County School District. “It has to be embraced by business people and individual citizens to be truly successful. This initiative being driven by the business people, industry representatives, and citizen ambassadors that make up the SAC committee speaks volumes to the commitment of our community.”
“St. Lucie County found the Green County Certification process to be a valuable tool that provided a way to objectively and quantifiably measure the county’s commitment and application of sustainable practices,” said Sandra Bogan, education and outreach manager for the county’s Environmental Resources Department. She added that the process “facilitated a greater understanding of and involvement across all county departments.”
Asked what advice she could offer for other counties and local governments that would like to achieve a green designation, Bogan told Govpro.com: “The most important aspect for the success of the certification process was identifying one point of contact person who could lead and shepherd the process. This lead person needed direct authority or have the full backing of the administration to ensure full engagement and involvement with all department directors. Municipalities can also consider creating a committee to assist the sustainability leader in communications, problem-solving, and facilitating the overall process.”
Bogan also suggests that local governments take a look at the FGBC checklist for governments at the FGBC Web site.
The checklist, Bogan said, “could be used for any county or city that wanted to take actions toward sustainability.”