After more than three years of concerted effort, the City of North Port was designated a certified Florida Green Local Government (FGLG) on Dec. 20, 2011, successfully meeting sustainability standards established in the Florida Green Building Coalition’s Green Local Government program.
The Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) is a membership-based non-profit organization that administers certification standards and provides education to promote sustainable building, development and business practices.
North Port achieved 41 percent of the 295 applicable points, earning the City a Gold-level designation. In doing so, North Port became the first city in Sarasota County to earn this distinction and joined only ten other cities across the State who have been certified “Gold.”
Three years earlier, the North Port City Commission had joined the FGBC, setting City staff the task of making City government more sustainable, thereby providing an example to the entire community. A North Port “Green Team,” composed of representatives from the majority of City departments, was assigned to lead the sustainability initiative and work with department administrators.
Among the most significant and lasting results of the City’s pursuit of FGLG certification was the establishment of a new construction standard for future City facilities. The Green Team drafted – and the City Commission passed – Resolution No. 2011-R-38, which requires the City to “…finance, plan, construct, manage, renovate…and deconstruct City facilities in accordance with [the] sustainable building standards of the FGBC.” FGBC’s standards are similar to LEED standards and require close coordination with the Coalition for the duration of projects.
Among other FGLG-motivated noteworthy results were:
- Establishing and maintaining a group (the Green Team) to coordinate current and future green activities.
- Enacting a policy so all computer equipment is off when not in use (in this case, a purpose-built server that automates the shutdown of multiple desktop computers and delivers software updates to computers that require them. This approach used technology to achieve a policy goal, and was one of the more innovative approaches undertaken by the Green Team.)
- Incorporating a sustainability mission statement into North Port’s Comprehensive Plan;
- Offering incentives for location of green businesses within the City;
- Creating an endangered lands conservation/purchasing program: Establishment of a publicly-owned, 7.25-mile-long conservation buffer surrounding the Myakkahatchee Creek continues to be a major priority for the City, since the Creek is a primary source of potable water for North Port and the region. Upon successful completion of this project, the City will have accomplished the preservation of close to 800 acres of critical floodplain area. Recently, the City and Sarasota County jointly purchased the 81-acre Warm Mineral Springs spa property, and together the two jurisdictions are planning for its recreational development.
- Training Police in crime prevention through environmental design.
- Certification by the Sarasota County Extension Service that 31 of 33 City facilities meet at least the Standard level of certification for the Florida Friendly Landscaping program. Furthermore, 19 of the 31 facilities achieved Gold-level certification. The certified facilities total approximately 206.5 acres, or 99.5% of total acreage surveyed.
- Offering energy audits, rebates and loans for retrofits to decrease energy usage in local homes (funding no longer available).