According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the world population is expanding at a mind-boggling rate. The world reached 1 billion people in 1800; 2 billion by 1922; and over 6 billion by 2000. It is estimated that the population will swell to over 9 billion by 2050. That means that if the world’s natural resources were evenly distributed, people in 2050 will only have 25% of the resources per capita that people in 1950 had.
The world has a fixed amount of natural resources – some of which are already depleted. So as population growth greatly strains our finite resources, there are fewer resources available. If we intend to leave our children and grandchildren with the same standard of living we have enjoyed, we must preserve the foundation of that standard of living. We save for college educations, orthodontia, and weddings, but what about saving clean air, water, fuel sources and soil for future generations?
Some of the greatest threats to future resources come from things we throw away everyday. Household batteries and electronics often contain dangerous chemicals that may, if sent to a local landfill, leak through the bottom barrier and pollute the groundwater. This can contaminate everything from the soil in which our food grows, to the water which will eventually come out of aquifers and into our tap water. Many of these chemicals cannot be removed from the drinking water supply, nor from the crops that are harvested from contaminated fields. The risks to human health are tremendous.
Throwing away items that could be recycled diminishes energy, water and natural resources that could be saved by recycling.
Did you know…
For every ton of paper that is recycled, the following is saved: 7,000 gallons of water; 380 gallons of oil; and enough electricity to power an average house for six months.
You can run a TV for six hours on the amount of electricity that is saved by recycling one aluminum can.
By recycling just one glass bottle, you save enough electricity to power a 100-watt bulb for four hours.
The more we throw away, the more space we take up in landfills. When a landfill becomes a “landfull”, taxpayers have to build a new one. The less we throw away, the longer our landfills will last. The amount of taxpayer money we save by extending the longevity of our landfills is an important community benefit.
1o Things That Community Association can do and Make a Difference
“Going green” has now become accepted and even mainstream in our society. Community associations can play a major role in the green movement too. Community associations impact the Earth on many different levels and they have the ability to make a positive impact with the common areas that they maintain and control. The Association also has the ability to educate and encourage their Unit Owners to conserve our resources as well. Community associations can make an immediate impact by taking some of the following actions to save resources and money;
1. Adopt landscaping policies that promote Xeriscape techniques and encourage compliance with applicable watering restrictions.
2. Replace routine paper mailings with e-mail communication and billing.
3. Develop a community website for access to association documents and announcements.
4. Provide recycling options for community members at designated places in the common areas and through contracted waste removal services for individual units.
5. Choose products made from sustainable materials for community projects such as roof, siding, and deck replacement and for individual homeowners’ use.
6. Reduce water consumption with rain sensors and flow meters.
7. Use compact fluorescent bulbs for common area lighting.
8. Upgrade older systems such as those used for irrigation, heating, cooling and laundry to more cost-effective, energy efficient models.
9. Outline preferred locations for solar energy devices and other energy saving devices like retractable window awnings.
10. Conduct an energy audit of your community with the assistance of a qualified professional, or through FPL, to identify additional ways to save energy and money for your association.
If all Community Associations could adopt some or all of these suggestions and also educate and encourage their unit owners to participate as well, I am sure that we could all make a positive impact on our environment. Below are some additional ideas for helping our communities to become more energy efficient and green.
http://www.buildinggreen.com – Publishes the Environmental Building News monthly; provides links to research, green building products, and information on LEED certification.
http://www.dsireusa.org - List of state, local, utility, and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.
http://www.energystar.gov – Background information on the Energy Star program, certified products, new construction certification standards, and resources to find local Energy Star builders, lenders, and home energy raters.
http://www.quantityquotes.net/default.aspx - Energy Star Quantity Quotes is an online tool developed by the U.S. Department of Energy that connects buyers with suppliers of Energy Star labeled energy efficient products. The products types that are currently available for quotes are: clothes washers, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, light bulbs (CFLs), light fixtures, refrigerators, and room air conditioners.
http://www.floridaenergycenter.org/en/ - Information on solar energy for consumers, FSEC research, training opportunities, and a directory of solar energy providers.
http://www.floridagreenbuilding.org – Information on the coalition’s membership, certification programs, links to products and green certifying agents, and news on green building efforts around Florida.
http://www.greencommunitiesonline.org - Information on the Enterprise Foundation’s Green Communities grants and training opportunities; access to Green Communities criteria, research publications, and featured green affordable housing projects.
http://www.myfloridagreenbuilding.info - State-sponsored site maintained by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC). Provides information on green rating systems, links to green building research and energy savings calculators.
http://www.epa.gov/greenbuilding/ – General information and resources on green building; links to state and local government green building programs.
http://www.usgbc.org - Information on this non-profit’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating systems, certification, and accreditation; green building research; educational resources; relevant news articles; and information on USGBC events.
Service Magic-Glossary of Terms – Glossary of “Green” Terms from service Magic.
www.myfloridaclimate.com. - State of Florida Green Initiatives
Green Lodging Program, - established by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in 2004, recognizes hotels that conserve and protect natural resources.
SunBuilt - Is a partnership between DEP, the Florida Home Builders Association, and the Florida Solar Energy Research and Education Foundation that provides rebate checks to home builders who install solar hot water heaters in newly constructed homes.
myfloridaclimate.com - This is their Resources section which details and outlines sources of additional energy renewable programs and incentives from the State of Florida.