Gainesville named one of the top 12 greenest cities in America | read the article
Gainesville has many champions of environmental, economic, and community sustainability: the idea that when we interact with our environment, and with each other in our communities, we should strive to meet our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.
In Gainesville, sustainability is more than a catch phrase. Twenty-five years of land conservation efforts, farmland preservation, greenbelts, parks and trails and recycling initiatives are paying off with vital economic and community benefits. Gainesville was the first city in the nation to create a solar-power feed-in tariff. Rooftops are blossoming with the silvery panels that convert Florida sunshine into electricity. A downtown restaurant has figured out how to grow its vegetables in rooftop greenhouse skylights right over customers heads.
Community gardens and edible landscapes are increasingly popular. People are cycling to work, carpooling, riding the bus, composting, reducing, reusing, and recycling. Rain barrels are popping up and native plants are replacing turf grass. Farmers’ markets offer local produce nearly every day of the week and folks are realizing that there’s nothing tastier than a ripe homegrown or locally grown tomato!
Gainesville is home to companies offering global solutions to environmental challenges, from preventing bats flying through wind turbines to wetland restoration.
Gainesville a world leader in Solar
In 2009 Gainesville became the first US City to introduce a solar feed-in solar tariff — within a year solar capacity had increased five fold and the city is now recognized as a world leader in per capita solar power output. The panels can be found on homes and alongside roadways, but it is in less visible locations that the solar capacity is largest, on the huge roof expanses of shopping malls, office buildings and parking garages. | more info | Gainesville interactive solar locations map.
Track your home’s carbon footprint, energy and water useUse the interactive map at GainesvilleGreen to track your carbon footprint and see your energy and water use over time. The app allows you to see how you are doing compared to your neighbors, or see how different parts of town compare in their use of water and energy. This is an example of an innovation created right here in Gainesville, but that is being developed as a prototype product for world distribution.
Green BuildingIt isn’t just what’s on buildings that’s being transformed. Gainesville is a center for the green building industry. NAHB chairman Barry Rutenberg, a home builder from Gainesville touts the results of a recent study that projects a five-fold increase in demand for green homes by 2016. “This is a powerful testament to the importance of green home building—and transforms the way we think of homes overall,” he explains. Contributors to the innovations that are making green building more effective and affordable emerge from UF’s College of Design, Construction and Planning, UF’s Program for Resource Efficient Communities, UF sustainable living and construction resources and construction training programs at Santa Fe College. The University of Florida is home to Rinker Hall, one of the most water-efficient large buildings in the nation. | Green Building Principles
Sustainability is an action word in Gainesville Real Estate
Dave Gibbs reports that sustainable high performance residential building construction utilizing leading edge technology has been going on in Gainesville, Florida since well before the term GREEN was the label coined for such endeavors and long before the Federal government began to shake things up with incentives and mandates from the top down to motivate Federal, State and local municipalities along with the general public to conserve energy, utilize more renewable sources of energy and embrace sustainability (see Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007).
Sustainability is an action word in Gainesville Florida since the mid 1990′s
Read Dave Gibbs blog to see a chronological sampling of sustainable projects clearly demonstrating the accomplishments and early sustainability leadership in Gainesville Florida. Thanks to Ken Fonorow of Florida Home Energy and Resource Organization (H.E.R.O.) for his long time participation and contribution to this list of achievements. | Read more. Dave Gibbs assists buyers and sellers of real estate and is focused on sustainable living.
Campus SustainabilityThe University of Florida (UF) and Santa Fe College promote sustainability in research, academic programs, construction, campus operations, and in the community.
In 2011, UF was ranked as the top school on the Roberts Environmental Center’s sustainability reporting of the top U.S. universities. UF also received a B+ on the Sustainable Endowment Institute’s College Sustainability Report Card, and has been repeatedly featured in the Princeton Review’s “Guide to 311 Green Colleges.” The UF Office of Sustainability works in all facets of UF, includiing research, dining halls, transportation, water and energy use, recycling and the built environment. Dining halls serve locally-sourced food; tree plantings offset the carbon use at football games; and a host of other initiatives are aimed at making the campus one of the most sustainable in the country. UF Office of Sustainability
Sustainable Santa Fe involves students and faculty in promoting sustainable practices throughout the community. Santa Fe professor and award-winning film-maker Eric Flagg helped produce Terra Blight, the documentary on what happens to most of the world’s electronic waste. Alachua County is proud to send its entire e-waste for 100% recycling in the United States.
A long history of public private partnership has put in place an interlocking network of trails and conserved lands that make Alachua County one of the best places in Florida for outdoor recreation, birdwatching, wildlife corridors and watershed protection. Gainesville is at the epicenter of programs identifying how water is used in the state of Florida and monitoring the state’s unique freshwater springs.
The Triple Bottom Line: The Goal of Sustainability
Alachua County sustainability initiatives are guided by the following goals:
- Tend to improve social conditions for all kinds of people
- Increase economic opportunities
- Improve environmental protection or restoration efforts
- Will continue to have these effects for the foreseeable future
Sustainable decision making strives to achieve a triple bottom line of benefits for all citizens that enhances the environment, economy and society.
Using the diagram on the left, a triple bottom line approach shows that the greatest benefit for people, profit and planet is achieved in actions that are overlapped by all three spheres. These areas of overlap, as seen in in illustration, represent critical areas for collaboration and dialogue in the community.
City of GainesvilleThe City of Gainesville Sustainability Portalprovides a comprehensive list of things the city is doing to encourage “a healthy economic, social, and environmental relationship with our region.” Find links to such projects as the Gainesville Green Building Program, solar power programs, water conservation tips, transit service plans and rideshare programs, Florida friendly landscaping, community gardens, and much more.
The Solar Feed-In Tariff
In February 2009, Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), the city-owned utility company, adopted a solar photovoltaic feed-in tariff (Solar FIT), the first of its kind in the nation. Based on highly successful models in Europe, the program offers GRU electric customers a chance to invest in solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and sell electricity directly to GRU—and it has been a resounding success. | read more
Business Innovation and Innovation GainesvilleThe University of Florida, Santa Fe College, City and County work closely with business leaders to create an environment that fosters sustainable innovation at all levels. From pre-school to retirement, the Gainesville area is creating a vibrant ecosystem for creativity, research, entrepreneurship and business development. iG (Innovation Gainesville) was launched by the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce to bring academic research to commercialization, attract high-technology companies to the area, support the launch of start up companies and bring high-quality, green jobs to the area.
TransportationRTS provides bus service throughout Gainesville, with popular routes being that serve students at the University of Florida and Santa Fe College. All routes are wheelchair accessible and feature bike racks on the front of every bus, so you can take your bike with you. New buses run on biodiesel or are hybrid electric vehicles. Rideshare programs and bike trails offer additional sustainable transportation options. Getting Around | Cycling | RTS Bus Service
Green Drinks and Cinema Verde
Grow local / Buy local food
Home gardens, community gardens, farmers’ markets, and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs are mushrooming in popularity as people realize the cost savings and taste benefits of eating locally grown food. Here are some links worth investigating.
Alachua County Agricultural Extension Office | http://alachua.ifas.ufl.edu/
Citizens’ Co-op | http://www.citizensco-op.com/
Florida Organic Growers | http://www.foginfo.org/
Grow Gainesville | http://growgainesville.wordpress.com/
Gainesville Farm Fresh | http://www.gainesvillefarmfresh.com/
The Gainesville Gardeners Coop (includes Seed Saver groups) | http://www.meetup.com/gainesvillegardenerscoop/
Gator CSA | http://sustainable.ufl.edu/gatorcsa/
Heirloom Country Farms (CSA) | http://heirloomcountryfarms.bravehost.com/
Hogtown Homegrown | http://www.hogtownhomegrown.com/
Plowshares CSA | http://www.plowsharescsa.org/
Swallowtail Farm CSA | http://swallowtailcsa.com/
Alachua Audubon Society | http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/aud/
Alachua Conservation Trust | http://alachuaconservationtrust.org/
Florida Defenders of the Environment | http://www.fladefenders.org/
Florida Native Plant Society | http://www.fnps.org/chapters
Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute | http://floridaspringsinstitute.org/
Our Santa Fe River | http://oursantaferiver.org/
Friends of Nature Parks (support group for City of Gainesville parks) | http://www.friendsofnatureparks.org/about/
Friends of Dudley Farm State Park | http://friendsofdudleyfarm.org/
The Friends of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Park | http://www.marjoriekinnanrawlings.org/
Friends of O’Leno State Park | http://friendsofoleno.org/
Friends of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park | http://www.prairiefriends.org/
Friends of San Felasco Preserve State Park | http://www.sanfelasco.net/
Championing Sustainability; Strengthening Our Community
Here’s a brief survey of how some organizations in our area are changing lifestyles, championing sustainability, and strengthening our community. The City of Gainesville Sustainability Portalprovides a comprehensive list of things the city is doing to encourage “a healthy economic, social, and environmental relationship with our region.” Find links to such projects as the Gainesville Green Building Program, solar power programs, water conservation tips, transit service plans and rideshare programs, Florida friendly landscaping, community gardens, and much more.
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