Miami, FL Green Commission

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Miami, FL, US

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Type: Policy

Status: Ongoing

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Over the past four years, Mayor Diaz has been addressing important environmental issues including the implementation of the adopt-a-waterway program, citywide recycling, the Litter Busters program, environmental remediation (i.e. Wagner Creek, Grapeland Park), and tree canopy restoration following the onslaught of hurricanes over the past two years. To truly address the environmental needs of our City today and over the years to come, Miami’s approach to environmentalism must become more strategic, aggressive, and inclusive of local, state, and federal partners and resources.

In 2005, Mayor Diaz signed a letter committing Miami to the Kyoto Accord which pledged to reduce carbon dioxide per the outcomes of the Kyoto Protocol. The United Nations brought countries together to ratify this protocol and commit to reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses, or to engage in emissions trading programs. Mayor Diaz’s commitment to join other mayors throughout the country in signing the Kyoto Accord was a bold statement that brought the issue of environmental policy to the forefront of South Florida priorities.

During the Mayor’s 2006 State of the City Address, core steps for environmental policy were etched out, increasing the level of focus on innovation, and developing a strong foundation for environmentalism. One of these steps is the development of the City of Miami Green Commission. The Green Commission will be chaired by a City Commissioner, and has begun under the leadership of Commissioner Joe Sanchez. Members of the Green Commission are appointed by Mayor Diaz and represent a cross section of local content experts and community enthusiasts. The Commission meets quarterly to guide and mold the City’s environmental policy. The first meeting was held on June 12, 2006 and introduced the members of the Green Commission to the Mayor’s vision.

Miami Green Commission policy is established under the guidance of Mayor Diaz’s environmental vision. The following policy goals have been submitted to the Green Commission for discussion, and include two phases, a preparation phase and an action phase. During the preparation phase, the city will audit the current status of the objective, and educate the necessary city employees on the findings. During the action phase, the city will enact the policy set forth by the preparation measures in accordance with the city statutes.

The Greening of Miami – Now and in the Future
Under this policy initiative, the Miami Green Commission is working to develop a comprehensive urban forestry strategy to include both short-term and long-term tree plantings. Short-term tree plantings are a frequent occurrence in Miami, as districts and NET offices seek to improve the quality of life in Miami by holding neighborhood tree plantings. A longer term strategy is being developed in partnership with Miami-Dade County, the South Florida Water Management District, and American Forests, the nation’s oldest nonprofit citizens’ conservation organization, and a world leader in environmental restoration, and urban forestry. Under this measure, aerial and satellite imagery will be used to measure changes in Miami’s existing tree canopy, and measure the proportion of canopy cover to grassland, and impervious surfaces (buildings and concrete). Staff is prepared to provide a structured effort to discuss and review the topic within the Urban Forestry Committee of the Green Commission meeting.

Increase Green Building Practices
Buildings consume more energy and pollute more than all facets of urban development. By encouraging green building practices, Miami can work toward reducing its energy consumption, and therefore reducing the overall costs of building operations. These initiatives will be enacted by using the US Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficient Design) standards as a guide for City practices within their own buildings, as well as, for encouraging green practices within current developments. Miami’s first green building, the University of Miami Clinical Research Center, opened in July 2006.

Begin Green Schools Practices
The overall Green Building strategy addresses all public and private building practices. A proposal for developing green schools has been submitted by a local environmental non-profit organization, Dream-In-Green. The proposal incorporates energy efficient technologies into the city’s school’s operations which will be complimented with a related environmental curriculum (including assembly presentations) and an energy reducing competition measured by the “green-o-meter.” The City of Miami will join with Dream in Green to advocate for the proposal and would advocate for the inclusion of the proposal within the City’s Education Compact developed with the Miami-Dade County Public School System.

Increase Utilization of Alternative Fuels/Hybrid Vehicles
Mayor Diaz announced his goal to have 1,000 city vehicles operating on hybrid technology or alternative fuels by 2012. This allows the city vehicle fleet many energy efficient, clean options. Hybrid vehicles on one hand may be plug-in hybrids (an initiative spearheaded by the utility company of Austin, Texas) or a standard hybrid which the Ford Motor company will be displaying at city hall on August 17. Alternative fuels provide two additional clean options in biodiesel (a diesel supplement) and ethanol (a gasoline supplement). Both of these biofuel blends are environmentally friendly and have chemical properties which will increase engine life.

Develop a City-Wide Public Awareness and Education Campaign
In July of 2006, Mayor Diaz announced the city’s partnership with EcoMedia to implement their environmental education program, Eco-Zone in Miami. This includes an advertisement campaign in which the city will gather funding from Eco-Zone sponsors.

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