Peter Lehner (CEO & Executive Director of NRDC) Urges Floridians To Be Energy Efficient

Dear Friends & Neighbors,

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Windermere Blue Sunset (credit: Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker)

Windermere Blue Sunset (credit: Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker)

Then we come to the Introduction by Susan Glickman, for Peter Lehner, CEO and Executive Director of Natural Resources Defense Council,NRDC, at the Mayor Dyer’s Climate & Energy Summit on August 13, 2014, at Amway Center, Orlando, FL. Director Lehner and NRDC strive to create a new way of life for human kind such that we will be able to sustain ourselves indefinitely and fairly without spoiling or depleting our fragile resources on earth. Peter Lehner reminds us that Clean Energy is an important issue for all of us and the fact that Florida’s leadership in Southeast has international significance. He also states the importance of “Clean Energy and Clean Efficiency” in being good for the climate and good for the prosperity. In recounting the Southeast in having had more billion dollar weather disasters than other parts of the country in recent years, he demonstrates that climate change is an issue that we cannot afford to ignore.

The fact that various states and cities have confronted this challenging issue through creative solutions (such as Green Works Orlando Initiative, NRDC City Energy Project, EPA’s Clean Power Plant, etc.) have also helped these regions to have cleaner, safer environment while saving money too. Various recent comprehensive reports have warned us the need for us to get cracking on coming up with solutions for the climate change issue: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, American Association For Advancement of Science, National Climate Assessment. State of Florida has been declared a Disaster area nineteen times due to damages from hurricane, storm surges, heavy rains and flooding, etc. since 2000. In 2011, Florida experienced record breaking heat, rain, and draught in many counties, leading to serious problems such as impaired drainage system, flooding, intrusion of salt water into fresh water supply, and increased temperature and conditions which may be potentially hazardous to elderly and those with allergies or respiratory problems.

Director Lehner reminds us that it is much easier to reduce CO2 emission (taking preventive measures) rather than having to deal with fastened pace of climate change. Delaying dealing with the problem for a decade would increase the cost by forty percent. Implementing standards to reduce CO2 emission and increase energy efficiency would not only help to reduce cost but also increase local jobs. Utility companies are also encouraged to shift toward more energy efficient system. Energy efficiency is definitely the low hanging fruits in carbon cutting strategy measures, potentially enabling US to cut cost or wastes by $1.2 trillion. Cutting-waste measures may be implemented not only in energy use but also in food and transportation use or waste.

It’s been demonstrated that about 50% of our energy use comes from buildings. Often policy may be even more critical than technical factors in determining how energy efficient our city’s buildings become. Therefore, it is wonderful to see city such as Orlando in taking the lead in bringing energy efficient buildings and projects into reality. Director Lehner mentions how impressive Green Works Orlando Initiative is (projects such as: expanded the Downtown LYMMO bus circulator and completed SunRail; launched car-sharing with bike-sharing; completing eight LEED-certified municipal buildings, including the first newly constructed LEED-certified NBA arena in the country;performed energy efficiency retrofits to 1,200 houses;planting 10,000 trees and establishing four community gardens;adopted the 2012 Municipal Operations Sustainability Plan and the 2013 Green Works Community Action Plan). The city of Orlando has set the goal of reducing CO2 emission by 25% by 2018 and reducing CO2 emission by 90% by 2040 (this is by far the most ambitious goal of any city in the country! Bravo for Orlando!). The savings generated from energy savings is pumped back into a revolving fund to fund more energy efficiency programs. Orlando is one of the ten cities in the country selected to participate in City Energy Project (a joint project of NRDC & IMT), utilizing revolving concept to implement energy efficiency projects by reinvesting the fund from energy savings again and again. As the saying “you can only manage what you can measure” indicates, Benchmarking and Disclosure are the key tools in energy saving projects so managers and tenants can see how much energy their building is using. City Energy Project experts will also be helping Orlando to develop energy finance instruments for upfront costs. Ultimately, among the ten cities selected by City Energy Project, as a whole, it is expected to cut as much climate pollution as taking off a million and half cars off the road per year. The project will be saving Orlando $55 million dollars per year on energy bills. For all ten cities combined, there will be expected savings of a $1 billion dollars per year in energy cost. The payback usually occurs within short period of time to make these energy efficiency projects very attractive. These energy efficiency projects would also translate into reduction of CO2 emission. In fact, a quarter (25%) of US population already live in states that limit carbon pollution from power plants. The low cost tools and know-how are readily available, if there should be any resistance to quick spread of these projects it is due to lethargy of the status quo and entrenched special interest groups (intending to keep us dependent on dirty energy).

So what we do in Orlando, Windermere, Central Florida and Florida will help to set the tone for our region, our state, our country, and globally. Let’s be sure that we remind those around us to be as energy efficient as possible….let’s also take advantage of these available resources to help all of us to become more energy efficient….and keep in mind what Robert Redford shared with us, below:

~Let’s Help One Another~

Gathered, written, and posted by Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker

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