January 2007

Pinellas County Designated a Certified Green Local Government

Photo of Eric Martin in front of display
Eric Martin played a key role in the development of the
FGBC standard and evaluation of the
Pinellas County program.

The Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) has recognized Pinellas County’s outstanding environmental stewardship by designating it as the first Certified Green County Government in Florida.

The FGBC’s Local Government Standard, developed by researchers at FSEC, focuses on improving local governments’ environmental performance in the areas of energy, water, air, land and waste. The standard examines governments’ internal environmental practices, incentives, ordinances and educational activities that aim to improve the environment and designates Florida Cities and Counties as green for outstanding environmental stewardship. The program was developed by FSEC under a contract from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Florida Energy Office. Miami-Dade’s Department of Environmental Resource Management assisted with developing portions of the standard, and various local governments and volunteers reviewed drafts.  Sarasota County, Alachua County, and the City of Gainesville staff reviewed drafts early on in the process.

Eric Martin, a senior research engineer at FSEC who spearheaded the development of this standard and served as FGBC’s evaluator for the Pinellas County designation process, explained that ”This is the only green standard we are aware of that is designed for local governments and goes beyond the built environment to focus on all functions they perform.”  The standard covers a comprehensive array of internal local government functions including fleet management, purchasing, and alternative commuting as well as an array of community functions such as effective management of environmental resources, sustainable business development, and education.

The FGBC standard is similar to other green standards used in Florida and many other states, yet unique since it targets local governments. Local governments that have applied for the designation are required to meet specific criteria and their unique needs are considered in awarding credit points. When a city or county has determined a goal number of points to be accomplished, the local government earns the “registered” designation indicating the intent to certify within three years. If sufficient credit points have been incorporated, they earn the “certified” designation at either the Platinum, Gold, Silver or Certified levels.

Several Pinellas County departments developed special programs to move toward being a Green Local Government by demonstrating that their operations met the Florida Green Building Coalition’s criteria, organized in terms of local government department functions. Some of the outstanding departments and their programs include:

  • Utilities – focus on water conservation and their progressive solid waste collection
    Public Works – proactive storm water management activities
  • Environmental Management & Parks and Recreation – efforts to preserve wildlife habitat and properly care for public lands
  • Community Development – constructing EnergyStar qualified affordable housing
  • Fleet Management – use of Biodiesel in the county’s fleet of diesel-powered vehicles
  • The Planning Department – integration of green land management policies into the county’s overall plans

“We are extremely proud to receive this designation and appreciate the recognition of the effort put forth by county departments,” said Mary Campbell, Pinellas County Extension director, who coordinates the program. “Pinellas County has worked diligently for many years to achieve this level of environmental stewardship.”

Sarasota and Orange counties and the cities of St. Petersburg and Dunedin have also announced their intent to certify.

Since Certified Green Local Governments function in a more efficient manner through better internal communication, dollar savings, and effective risk and asset management, FGBC is seeking funding to promote and or assist Florida’s local governments to follow the lead of Pinellas County.