Coconut Creek, FL (PRWEB) March 3, 2011
The City of Coconut Creek in Florida has earned the Audubon Sustainable Community Certification from Audubon International, a non-profit environmental organization. Members of Audubon International’s Sustainable Communities Program are eligible for the designation, which recognizes dedication to the process of becoming a sustainable community by completing a long-term sustainability plan. The program covers 15 focus areas, and members must create a plan and choose timelines and measurable goals. Once progress is documented, members become certified.
“As the first Municipality in Florida to receive the Audubon International Sustainable Community Certification, Coconut Creek has demonstrated a strong commitment to the ideals of sustainability – economic vitality, environmental protection, and social responsibility,” says Suzi Zakowski, Manager of the Sustainable Communities Program.
"I am so proud that Coconut Creek, as a small city, is taking steps to address a global issue. The key to making an impact worldwide is to encourage our neighbors to follow our lead," said Mayor Lisa Aronson. The mayor commented that she was extremely happy that the city is being recognized by Audubon International.
Coconut Creek created The City Green Plan, which establishes a framework for achieving environmental leadership with the adoption of a City green image, the identification of seven environmental themes, a range of action steps, and a method for annual monitoring. By using this plan, the City will implement programs and policies for a range of environmental issues and will define sustainability for the community it serves.
On December 10, 2009, the Coconut Creek City Commissioners formally adopted the Plan with 51 action steps, 176 measurable indicators, under nine categories. The City’s Environmental Advisory Board reviewed the Plan, prior to adoption, and the City Green Team, with members from each city department, will assist in the implementation and annual monitoring over a ten-year time frame. In order to receive certification from Audubon International, a municipality must demonstrate progress in plan implementation. In 2009, there were 26 action steps in progress, and two action steps completed with the approval of the 2010 Annual City Budget.
Coconut Creek’s noteworthy accomplishments include:
- MainStreet and Green Development: The MainStreet Design Standards were created to provide parameters for a mixed-use, downtown development in the center of Coconut Creek. Being a planned community, Coconut Creek adopted the standards in 2004 to ensure smart growth principles were established before more development occurred. Coupled with the City’s Green Building Ordinance, such standards and policies encourage mixed use development along major roadways and corridors. Thus far, 65% of total new construction is LEED Certified.
- Energy Conservation- The City created a new green permit fee category for residential solar use. To fund the action items listed under this category such as increasing residential solar use by 40% and modifying the City’s Neighborhood Enhancement Grant Program to include renewable energy projects, grant monies have been aggressively sought after. Thus far, Coconut Creek has been awarded over $400,000.00 in grant aid to fund energy projects.
- Water Conservation and Use Reduction- The seriousness of the need for water conservation in South Florida coupled with the City not owning , operating, or controlling primary water plants or facilities has focused efforts on the enforcement of water restrictions and the expansion of reclaimed water resources. With extensive outreach and education programs, the City has successfully expanded two (192 miles) reclaimed water lines and targeted residential and business customers for use reduction.
- Sustainable Transportation and Mobility- The four main areas under this category that The City has concentrated on implementing are increasing the number of bus shelters and bike racks, increasing the City Shuttle Services, and expanding the Greenway Trails. To date, the City Budget has allotted an increase of bike racks to 68, an additional 3,600 ft of greenway trails, and increased shuttle service to accommodate an additional 120,000 passengers.
Members maintain certification status in the Sustainable Communities Program by demonstrating continuous progress towards goals in the plan under fifteen focus areas. For more information about the sustainable community efforts of Coconut Creek, visit http://www.sustainablecommunityinitiative.com.
Audubon International is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) environmental education organization dedicated to providing people with the education and assistance they need to practice responsible management of land, water, wildlife, and other natural resources, thus leading to more sustainable communities. To meet this mission, the organization provides training, services, and a set of award-winning environmental education and certification programs for individuals, organizations, properties, new developments, and entire communities. Through the Community Engagement, Planning & Action Initiative, and the Sustainable Communities Program, Audubon International works to help community leaders and stakeholders embrace environmental stewardship and sustainability as a central element of planning, policies, and practices.
For more information, contact Suzi Zakowski at Audubon International, 46 Rarick Rd., Selkirk, NY 12158, USA, (518) 767-9051, ext. 124, e-mail at szakowski(at)auduboninternational(dot)org, or visit the website at http://www.auduboninternational.org.