Progress in 2019
This year, a better environment and solutions to climate change were pursued locally, nationally, and internationally. In 2019, more lands were protected, more renewable energy was generated, and improvements in environmental design were experienced by more people than ever.
A new law extends protection to more land and waterways
The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act protects more than two million acres of public lands. Its name honors a recently-deceased member of Congress who had served for 59 years.
Among the protected areas, Joshua Tree National Park has been enlarged by 4,518 acres. New national monuments were designated in four states, and more than a million new acres of western wilderness lands have been reserved.
The legislation also extended the Land and Water Conservation Fund and assured further protection to hundreds miles of designated Wild and Scenic Rivers.
A National Wildlife Federation article describes ways that the legislation protects public lands and waterways.
More renewable energy installations are brought on-line
In just three years, the number of solar installations in the United States doubled — from one million to more than two million today. The U.S. also ranks among the top three countries worldwide in wind turbine production. Those and other renewable energy sources have expanded as costs have decreased and environmental awareness has increased.
As of this year, 73% of the public acknowledges climate change. At least 156 global corporations have responded with their commitments to 100% renewable energy. Congress increased the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy budget to 2.38 billion.
PreScouter, a research intelligence firm, has published further details about wind and solar installations and the trends likely to cause continued growth in renewable energy.
Entire cities and communities seek better environmental design
The U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC) provides a framework for creating and maintaining healthy, energy-efficient, and cost saving buildings. That framework, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, is used in certifying more than 2.2 million square feet of buildings every day.
Beginning in 2016, LEED frameworks were implemented beyond buildings, for entire cities and communities. More than 160 cities and communities had certified or registered as USGBC LEED projects by July 2019. The benefits of environmental design now extend to the places where nearly 53 million people live.
The National Conference of State Legislators website describes the varied ways that bottle bills work, state-by-state.
Environmental design of an historic building is enhanced during renovations and repurposing
Constructed in 1926, the Grand Avenue Elementary School in Orlando, Florida served many generations of children. The now-historic building is being repurposed as a recreation center. Future generations will experience enhanced after-school programs, recreation, and sports activities.
Renovations will also enhance the historic building, making make it more energy-efficient and a healthier place for recreation. LEED BD+C certification is in-progress.
Plans for new and expanded programs at the Grand Avenue Elementary School building are described on the City of Orlando Government website.
25th UN Climate Change Conference (COP 25)
December 2 – 13, 2019
This year’s U.N. Climate Change conference — the 25th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 25) — convened in Madrid, Spain. Attendees reviewed progress toward goals and specified further implementation of the Kyoto Protocol (1997) and the Paris Agreement (2015). International negotiations considered vast, multi-faceted climate-related issues. These included technological developments, forestry and agricultural strategies, and concerns over impacts to oceans, indigenous peoples, and cities.
A Joint Statement and further reports from COP 25 are posted on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) website.
A Chief Sustainability and Resilience Officer (CSRO) is appointed for Orange County, Florida
Mayor Jerry Demings created the role of Chief Sustainability and Resilience Officer (CSRO) for Orange County. When announcing the appointment, Mayor Demings called for “work across the organization to develop a clear and compelling vision for community resilience and sustainability.” He further expressed that “measurable progress toward that vision” will be required.
As of December 16th, Jeff Benavides is CSRO for Orange County. His pioneering work in launching award winning sustainability programs includes many projects with ecoPreserve over the last 10 years.
Mayor Demings announced the selection of Orange County’s CSRO in this press release.