BY EILEEN SOLER, The Miami Herald -- Mar. 08, 2009
Going green at Miramar City Hall is becoming epidemic.
''From the top down to the bottom up, everyone is getting involved,'' said Elsi Rose of City Manager Robert Payton's office.
Rose is one of 25 city employees from every department who volunteer on the city's Green Champions team led by Kristy Gilbert of public works.
Gilbert said the 6-month-old group promotes citywide green projects already in place while creating new ideas that support the three R's of environmental conservation: reduce, reuse, recycle.
''We're off to a really grand start,'' Gilbert said.
On Wednesday, Gilbert, Rose and Karen Livernoise of the city's engineering department ventured into the community to help Coconut Palm Elementary School's Environmental Club kick off environmental month on the student operated WPLM closed-circuit morning news show.
The star of the show was WhooYou, Miramar's new environment mascot that Livernoise stitched together and brought to life with recycled materials from Trash to Treasure Creative Re-Use Center in Fort Lauderdale.
Livernoise, as WhooYou, shares smart tips about how to be Earth-friendly.
City Commissioner Carl Lanke, Coconut Palm's former PTA president and known in social circles as the environmental commissioner, was credited for having the school become the first to embrace WhooYou and other environmental concerns.
''Without Carl we would not be environmentally conscious as we are,'' said Anila Young, the PTA's current president.
Head custodian Hugo Sotomayor said the school has cut its use of electricity in half since last year. Every day, trash is separated from every classroom and office for recycling by members of the Environmental Club.
Rose, the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design accredited professional in Broward to also serve as a municipal employee, said Miramar is setting an example with its conservation efforts.
COSTS CUT 20 PERCENT
Energy costs at all city facilities is down by 20 percent since last year because cooling and heating systems are shut down at night and on weekends. City bus shelters are lighted by solar energy, swim facilities are warmed by geothermal heaters, and methane, in the form of biogas, has replaced natural gas for boilers at the city's wastewater reclamation facility.
Electric bills are expected to decrease even more this year when WhooYou's likeness gets stickered to every light switch in all city buildings.
''He'll always be watching to see who cares about saving energy. Who? You,'' Rose said.
The city conserves water and improves water quality by controlling weed growth in waterways with carp instead of chemicals; halting unnecessary irrigation by activating rain sensors on sprinkler systems; and providing financial assistance for owners of Miramar's oldest homes to replace older, wasteful plumbing.
Paper waste has been reduced by tons.
Last year, when the city clerk's office stopped providing paper agendas and backup materials for city meetings, it cut paper use by 6,500 pounds and, thus, cut costs in ink, energy, manpower and mail. The city also began a paper recycling effort that turned over 4,875 pounds of paper during the first year.
''Everything we save also saves taxpayer dollars,'' Gilbert said.
This year, with more intense effort, the city expects to recycle 19,500 pounds, or the weight of an elephant and a half, in paper.
USING HYBRID CARS
Lanke and Mayor Lori Moseley are the first on the City Commission to use hybrid cars.
Police are using battery-powered three-wheeled personal mobility vehicles at Town Center.
A recycling program was started last month at all city parks.
Projections based solely on parks used by 1,000 members of the Miramar Police Athletic League suggest that 43,500 water bottles will be recycled during soccer season alone.
Education is the key, Livernoise said.
Recently, the city created its own green Web page, www.ci.miramar.fl.us/green.
And, as word spreads about WhooYou and the Green Champions team, they will be likely summoned for appearances at schools and community events. The team already is organizing a recycled art contest for Miramar schools.
Matthew Bonachea, 11, of Coconut Palm Elementary, said the more children learn about conservation, the more power they have to protect the Earth.
''Otherwise the world could become a big lump of nothing,'' Matthew said.
By Chris Guanche. South Florida Sun-Sentinel -- March 1, 2009
The Miramar Town Center's courtyard was recently transformed into a mini recycling festival to highlight the city's new office recycling program.
The idea behind the event was to promote three related "R" words: reduce, reuse and recycle. That's the message that Casey Eckels of the South Florida Reuse and Recycle Institute wants to get across to Town Center employees. A retired recycling manager with the city of Fort Lauderdale, Eckels is also the founder of Trash to Treasure, a nonprofit group that collects reusable materials for art and education.
"We want to raise awareness of the impact of conservation on environmental degradation," Eckels said. "We're getting a hand on recycling, so now we're working on the others."
In January, the Town Center instituted a recycling program to collect all the typical trash you'd expect to find in a workplace, including water bottles, fax paper and mailing envelopes.
To emphasize the reuse of materials, Eckels said employees used the cardboard boxes that hold stacks of printer paper as their personal recycling box. Once those boxes have been used for several months, they can be replaced with another box instead of buying a plastic recycling container. At city events, employees are also reusing foam signs that can't be recycled.
"The city of Miramar started at the bottom, so it opens the window to reduce and reuse opportunities," Eckels said.
In January, Town Center offices recycled about 4,800 pounds of trash. With increased awareness and education, the city estimates that the Town Center alone will recycle about 19,500 pounds of trash in January 2010.
The recycling initiative at City Hall has sparked interest from other city facilities, ranging from the police to the Miramar Cultural Center, said Elsi Rose, development and capital management coordinator. Rose said residents cited recycling as a priority during a 2008 visioning session for how Miramar will be in 2030.
"The community wanted to go green, so it's an imperative for the city," Rose said.
The face of the city's recycling initiative will be an owl mascot designed by Robert Rose, a cultural arts operations manager. The mascot's catch phrase is "Who ... you," referring to who will recycle. But it's also practical — its nose resembles a light switch, and Rose said he wants to make stickers to place over light switches to remind people to turn off lights in the office.
"You remember the symbol and what you're supposed to do," he said.
The recycling program at the Town Center is a pilot program. Kristy Gilbert, administrative services coordinator, said the city applied for a $10,000 recycling grant from Broward County. Funds from the grant would be used for education and outreach as the program is eventually expanded to all city facilities, including parks.
Miramar Regional Park already has its own recycling program, and it collected more than 45,000 plastic bottles during the last children's soccer season, Elsi Rose said.
Recycling is just the start of what Commissioner Carl J. Lanke wants to bring to the city. Lanke said he's interested in exploring solar power and rainwater collection cisterns. Lanke said the city would benefit if solar power panels could power the Town Center and the extra electricity generated by them was sold back to Florida Power & Light.
"If citizens see us take the ball and run, it'll trickle down and the whole community will embrace it," he said.
Chris Guanche can be reached at email@example.com.
Copyright © 2009, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
By Chris Guanche | South Florida Sun-Sentinel -- July 27, 2008
In spots all across Miramar, the city is instituting changes designed to be environmentally friendly, but also to save money.
The changes can be as simple as rescheduling city work shifts to use less energy, or as advanced as using solar energy to power bus shelters. Green design policies also are in place with the new Miramar Town Center, said Elsi Rose, the city's capital management and development coordinator.
"By concentrating the buildings' footprint, this allows us to maximize green space, and we've been able to provide pathways, lakes and a botanical garden," she said.
The town center also is part of a city transit hub that will encourage bicycle use. By organizing city departments, the new library and other services at the town center, it allows more places to be within walking distance.
"The less cars that are on the street, more people can walk in the area," Rose said.
To save money and reduce waste, Rose said the city has instituted a variety of measures, such as moving to an electronic agenda for city meetings. While it seems like a small act, Rose said the results are anything but.
At commission meetings, 17 copies of the agenda are distributed to commissioners and staff, with each copy running from 800 to 1,500 pages. Counting the copies that circulate before the meetings among staff for revision, it totals up to about 1 million pages a year. Moving to a paperless agenda removes the need for all those paper copies.
The city's public works department also is introducing new environmental practices, said director Tom Good. Measures include moving staff to 10-hour-shift, four-day workweeks to reduce energy usage. Good said the department's fleet of vehicles is using E10, a fuel that includes 10 percent ethanol mixed in.
"The gas burns a little cleaner and also helps us to understand how to downsize our fuel consumption," he said.
Good said the department is having work crews carpool to reduce fuel consumption and purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles, with the goal being to find the right size of vehicle for the right job. A hauling job would require a truck, but a customer service job could use something smaller, he said.
The city also is recycling asphalt on road projects. Good said the recycled asphalt can be used on the side of the road as a stabilizer.
In the future, Good said his department is looking into using biodiesel on some vehicles, as well as using solar power for streetlights.
On the residential side, Rose said Miramar has applied for a federal grant for water savings. The grant would fund new equipment, allowing residents of older homes to retrofit their showers and toilets to reduce water usage.
According to Rose, by retrofitting 125 homes, the city can save 6.6 million gallons of water per year.
Similarly, Good said the city is also looking to triple use of recycled wastewater for irrigation.
In many cases, Good said new, environmentally friendly technology comes with a higher purchasing cost, but that's offset by lower operational costs over the unit's lifetime.
"These practices will ensure greater stewardship of our future resources," he said.