The ‘Green-olution’ Continues

Orange County to hold Climate Change Summit

ORANGE COUNTY – In an effort to continue the momentum of recent moves to make Orange County more “green”, county Mayor Richard Crotty and other officials intend on holding Central Florida’s first-ever Summit on Climate Change recently at the Orange County Convention Center.  The Summit will be geared towards all who are interested in energy and climate change issues and is open to everyone from business interests to citizens, policymakers and collegiate environmental students.

As recently reported, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer recently cut the ribbon on a new “green” parking structure in downtown Orlando.  Local Homebuilders Association officials and government officials agreed on a new water conservation measure for new construction and landscaping.  And, on July 19th, County Commissioners signed a Resolution to join in a nationwide movement to convert current infrastructure to a more green-friendly version.   That movement, entitled the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign, is run by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).

More changes across the board are being considered for county and city infrastructure, especially in the areas of land use, transportation, planning, energy, building codes, utilities and waste management.  Why? Recent studies indicate that Orange County produces 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide gas per year for county operations.

The current “green-olution” finds its building blocks as well in an initiative set by Mayor Crotty back in 2005, when he announced the intent to reduce electrical consumption, build only green buildings, and reduce petroleum fuel consumption by 20% by 2010.  These include the encouragement of less staff travel and more teleconferencing, the use of biodiesel and ethanol, and a new hybrid or alternative fueled vehicle purchase policy for government vehicles.  Also proposed will be reduction of electricity in government buildings along with the possible implementation of ‘green’ building codes.

The Summit is considered a half-way point for a look at how those initiatives are progressing, and what course must be taken forward from now.  It featured ways citizens and businesses can reduce emissions, including such methods as switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, plugging air leaks, programming your thermostat, using Energy Star appliances, tuning your HVAC system, reduce your water use, switching to various green power sources, buying your energy locally, using wood alternatives, native plantings, and more.  These types of shifts in lifestyle can make a significant impact on water, wood and other conservation efforts.

Keynote speaker for the Summit was Roger Ballentine, the Founder and President of Green Strategies, Inc.  Ballentine advises and represents businesses, associations, government agencies and non-profits on domestic and international public policy issues regarding energy, environment and conservation.