The District’s commitment to the environment
As an environmental regulatory agency, the St. Johns River Water Management District has always been concerned with being a good steward of the environment. As a part of disseminating information about its work, the District produces and distributes various documents. District staff strive to disseminate much of this information in paperless formats, such as posting information on the District’s website and sending electronic documents through email or on CDs. In the mid-1990s, the District began a paper reduction program and cut its internal paper use in half.
For more than a decade, the District has used recycled content papers and environmentally friendly products when such options have been available. Now that more people are focused on going “green,” additional environmentally friendly papers, inks and printing facilities are available and the District has raised its level of commitment to environmentally friendly printing practices.
Beginning in 2007, the District began seeking out printing companies who are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified to print its outreach documents, and who provide papers through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative or who are members of the American Tree Farm System.
The FSC certification ensures that printing companies use Earth friendly inks (such as soy or vegetable-based inks), and limit or eliminate the use of chlorides in the printing process. The certification process includes a list of criteria to show that Earth friendly processes have been used to grow the trees that are processed into paper and then become printed materials. The certification includes an on-site audit of printing facilities and an annual audit. The District also seeks to use printing vendors who use renewable energy sources and are otherwise lowering the overall “carbon footprint” associated with printing.
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative promotes its belief in responsible environmental behavior co-existing with sound business. The program melds perpetual growing and harvesting of trees with the protection of wildlife, plants, soil, water and air quality. Key among its goals is that participants practice sustainable forestry on all the lands they manage and that they influence millions of additional acres through the training of loggers and foresters in best management practices. To become certified, participants must undergo a rigorous review of its operations by an audit firm that is accredited by either the American National Standards Institute or the Standards Council of Canada.
The American Tree Farm System’s mission is to promote the growing of renewable forest resources on private lands while protecting environmental benefits and increasing the public’s understanding of all benefits of productive forestry. Membership is voluntary. The certification process incorporates established standards and guidelines and properties must conform to the American Forest Foundation (AFF) standards of Sustainability for Forest Certification.
In July 2007, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist hosted a Global Climate Change Summit in Miami. His goal was to generate a discussion that would explore opportunities for advancing the global climate change agenda and adopt specific climate action plans.
The summit concluded with Gov. Crist signing an executive order that included provisions requiring state agencies and departments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
District staff began addressing energy efficiency more than a decade ago and support efforts to be energy and resource efficient. Some of the steps already taken include:
- Remodeled buildings (beginning 1985) to make better use of power consumption.
- Replaced inefficient DX (direct expansion) air-conditioning units with air-cooled rotary chillers in the office buildings and DX units in service buildings.
- Retrofitted all fluorescent lights at District headquarters with energy-efficient bulbs, earning the District a rebate from the area’s power company.
- Replaced incandescent lighting at building exits with light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs that consume a fraction of the electricity used by traditional bulbs.
- Installed a direct digital controls (DDC) system throughout its headquarters to shut down chillers, fans, pumps and hot water tanks when not in use and to regulate ventilation requirements as determined by a carbon dioxide sensor.
- Set the DDC to adjust heating and cooling systems when buildings are not occupied.
- Installed backup power generators to ensure the District can operate during commercial power outages (due to accidents or storms) and to allow the District to participate in its utility’s commercial load shedding program.
The District will continue to implement information technology hardware that is designed for productivity, as well as for energy savings. The Division of Information Technology’s team has built a cluster of four servers that replaced 20 existing servers with “virtualized” servers. The cluster saves power and reduces the heat generated in a specially ventilated and cooled computer room. In its first six months of use, the District cluster meant a savings of more than 43,000 pounds of carbon dixocide emissions — the equivalent of planting 98 trees or removing seven cars from the road. When the District replaces its technology equipment as the equipment reaches the end of its productive cycle, the Information Technology team is replacing servers and desktop computers with new systems that consume less power.
In other ways the combination of smaller adjustments can add up to big benefits for the environment and taxpayers. For example:
- The District has been integrating hybrids into its fleet of vehicles. Likewise, District staff are encouraged to carpool whenever possible when traveling on District business.
- Containers are placed throughout District offices where staff can recycle paper, cans and other materials. This recycling program has been in place for many years.
- Waterwise landscapes have been installed at District offices to showcase the use of Florida native or Florida–friendly plants that can survive, once established, with little or no irrigation. Likewise, the District is experimenting with soil moisture sensors to help regulate when supplemental irrigation may be necessary.