Resilient West Palm Beach
Net Zero 2050: Community-wide Greenhouse Gas Emission Goal
- STAR/SAP/RCAP/COMP PLAN
The Sustainability Action Plan was initially completed in 2010 to introduce relevant issues to the community and city staff. Additionally, we completed a rigorous certification for STAR Communities (Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating Communities) in November 2015. We are now revising/updating the Sustainability Action Plan to include in one document the multiple goals/ action items covered in STAR/USGBC LEED for Cities (STAR and USGBC merged, and we will be recertifying as LEED for Cities), the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Action Plan, Climate Resilience Assessment/Plan, and are drafting a new Climate and Resilience element for the City’s Comprehensive Plan. Additionally, we are including all commitments the city has made to Climate initiatives such as We Are Still In, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, Net Zero GHG by 2050, Energy Secure Cities Coalition and others.
- Climate Resilience/Vulnerability Assessment
To become better prepared as it faces both existing hazards and a changing environment, West Palm Beach has undertaken a resilience planning process to consider threats and hazards with a goal of becoming more resilient to them, and to integrate the results into a localized perspective for future planning purposes. We are completing the Climate Vulnerability Assessment with NEMC/FernLeaf consultants which has identified major city assets and paired them with climate threats and impacts to determine vulnerabilities and suggest actions. The assessment is being completed across all city departments and will result in maps and potential priorities for CIPs to prepare for projected climate impacts.
The city has partnered with FPL to work toward Greenhouse Gas emission reductions (Net Zero 2050 goals), reduce costs and to promote climate healthy culture.
- SolarTogether: SolarTogether is a Shared Solar Program that allows customers to share in the benefits and costs of universal solar while receiving monthly bill credits on their FPL bill. This program is under consideration with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC). The city has pre-registered for 12,305 kilowatts which represents all city accounts excluding the ECR and existing accounts with solar locations. The plan is for this program to be offered later to businesses and residents which would have a huge effect on reducing the city wide greenhouse gas emissions.
- Solar Trees: Three solar trees were installed at no cost to the city at Howard Park along Okeechobee Blvd to promote the use of solar, to provide USB charging stations and to assist in the activation of the area. Additionally, 10 live trees were planted in the surrounding area of which FPL paid for four and six were funded though the $1M Tree project.
- Electric Buses: We have an agreement with FPL for a pilot program where FPL will provide the funding for the upgrade to electric of up to five school buses, with the charging infrastructure needed, to be used by our Parks & Recreation Community Centers. The Pilot would assist FPL in determining if school buses could be used as a energy source for peak usage times. The benefit to the city would be cleaner, quieter, more healthy buses that would reduce GHGs. We expect buses to be delivered in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2020.
- LED Streetlights: In December 2019, all FPL owned and maintained streetlights controlled by the City were retrofitted to LEDs. This includes 1807 streetlights, and will save the city an estimated $10,892 annually and would reduce approximately 607 metric tons of CO2 every year. This excludes 167 pendant streetlights that did not meet the program parameters.
- Energy Assessment for all Municipal Buildings
All municipal buildings will be assessed for energy efficiency, Energy Conservation Measures will be identified, and improvements prioritized for implementation.
- Energy Management Software
Energy Management software will be evaluated to monitor, measure and improve energy efficiency in municipal buildings.
- Single-use Plastics Ordinance An ordinance banning the distribution, sale, and use of single-use plastic straws and stirrers in the City of West Palm Beach was approved by Mayor Keith A James and the Commission in March 2019. The ordinance went into effect on October 1,2019.
- Tesla EV Charging Stations
We have partnered with the City Parking Administrator and Tesla to install 38 Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in the City’s three main garages. The stations include both universal and Tesla specific charging stations and the charging stations as well as the installation is at no cost to the City. Work has been completed on this project.
- VW Settlement
The State of Florida will receive over $50M from the VW Settlement. We have submitted RFIs to the State and also through FPL to address possible funding uses and are waiting for the State to issue an RFP, which is expected during the first or second quarter of this year.
- Bio-Diesel/ Renewable Diesel
We are working with Fleet Services to replace diesel with biodiesel fuel as an interim measure to reduce GHGs from City vehicles. Fleet has been working on the biodiesel contract over the past year. Renewable diesel could be a next step in these reductions as it doesn’t contain petroleum products, but it is not readily available at this time in our area. All of these measures are to help us reduce GHGs with City trucks given there are very limited options currently for electric at this time – although there are some electric trucks scheduled to be available within the next few years.
- Electric Trolleys
Electric trolleys are not readily available, however we are working with several companies to explore options for our City .
- Parking Cash Out Pilot
A work group made up of Sustainability, HR, Planning and Parking is designing a pilot parking cash out program to help reduce single passenger vehicle miles traveled by City employees coming to and from work. This would encourage multi modal transportation while potentially reducing the City employees’ using parking spaces in City garages.
- DropCountr Water Engagement App
The Public Utilities Department and Sustainability are in the process of moving to a new customer engagement software that will include an easy phone app to get information on water usage and conservation as well as other educational and conservation messages.
- Sea Wall Improvements/Height
We are working with Engineering and Planning to assist in options for repairs/replacement of the City owned sea wall. Design standards will need to be revised to include Sea Level Rise projections for both privately and City owned sea walls.
- Tree Program
The City and its residents have placed an increasing importance on trees and canopy improvement over the past few years, resulting in programs to address holistic improvements.
- 10K Trees: Sustainability has given away over 4,000 trees in the past four years to residents and businesses within the City to encourage tree canopy improvements. These have mostly been three gallon native trees handed out at public events, neighborhood meetings and through non-profit and religious institutions. This is an on going program with a target of giving away 10K by 2025.
- $1M Tree planting plan – Downtown and Northwest
A $1M tree fund was established in 2018 to quickly improve the tree canopy in these two areas through large tree plantings. Funds have been used thus far for the large trees on the 300 Block of Clematis, trees to compliment the solar tree project in Howard Park and irrigation evaluations, standard planting design drawings for installation and other related projects.
- Downtown irrigation evaluation/tree planting: The assessment of the downtown irrigation system was completed and found no viable solution for repairs. We will be considering submitting CIPs in a phased approach if a new irrigation system is determined to be necessary. We identified 27 locations for tree replacement in the downtown. The tree planting project is currently open for bid and included new planting standards that include suspended pavement systems or structural soil. To address the irrigation concern and to allow for good tree establishment, the watering period in the bid has been extended to a full year.
- Northwest Area Tree Planting Plan: A tree inventory was completed for the Northwest Area and we are working with an Landscape Architect. A planting plan has been designed, which includes over 200 new tree planting locations. The project will go out for procurement within 2020.
- Suspended Pavement Systems/ Structural Soil: Typically, trees planted in urban settings have a 7-8 year life span due to poor soils/planting conditions. Design standards have been revised to use either structural soil (some improvement) or suspended paver systems (best) to give trees more soil and better conditions to thrive.
- Tree Canopy Assessment: A comprehensive City-wide tree canopy assessment has been completed that includes tree canopy coverage using lidar data, heat islands, and other factors. This assessment is GIP based and will be accessible to both staff and the public. Final editing is underway, and the maps and information will be available soon. This assessment will help the City determine new planting areas that have limited tree coverage.
- Tree inventory – Parks and Public Lands: Tree inventory software has been purchased and we have begun the huge task of inventorying all trees in parks, on streets and other City areas. The inventory is GPS based and includes tree botanical and common names, height, size and condition assessments. The inventory will be available to City staff and the public. This is a critical component for determining budget needs for maintenance and improvements as well as replacements after severe storms.
- Urban Tree Management Plan: A Tree Management/Improvement Working Group made of Parks, the Landscape Planner and Sustainability have been working over the past year along with a grant funded consultant to develop a Tree Management Plan. This is to ensure the sustainability and improvement of existing trees. It does us no good to increase the tree canopy if we do not keep it healthy and well maintained.
- Mitigation Fund: These funds are targeted to be used in areas not covered by the $1M Tree fund. The focus will be on planting canopy shade trees, dependent on space, as they provide the most carbon sequestration and shade to assist in meeting both the NetZero 2050 GHG reduction goals as well as supporting the City’s Mobility and Community engagement goals of increasing walking and biking and getting people out of their cars and into activated spaces.
- Water Conservation programs: High Efficiency Toilet (HET) voucher program continues to provide over 500 toilet vouchers to City residents and businesses annually. Additionally, we distribute rain barrels and other water conservation materials, supplies throughout the year and participate in the Wyland Mayor’s Challenge for water conservation and Drinking Water Week.
- Sustainability Outreach Programs: We have many ongoing programs that focus on education and conservation as it related to Climate Change - E4 Life: Green, Health and Wellness Expo, public outreach events, business and school programs, and Bike to Work Week to name a few.