Winter Gardens has also prided itself on being an environmentally conscious city with a thriving economy. However, in 2015, it took a giant step forward towards becoming a sustainable city. The premise of sustainability is to not only local at how the local economy is doing, but it also to consider the social and environmental repercussions that come from the decision making process. Similarly, a city cannot view themselves as being sustainable if they are only interested in protecting their local wildlife. The year 2015, is important because that is the year in which Winter Gardens began creating annual sustainability assessments. These assessments used the status quo as a baseline and began generating short, medium and long-term goals. To ensure that the goals were not just vague promises that local residents and companies alike would want to hear, they added objectives and KPIs to measure their progress. The purpose of the report was not for an overbearing government to come in and dictate what should and should be done to resolve the city’s issues. Instead, it tried to reach out to local communities and individuals alike to find the issues that everyone was in support us and work with the community in an integrated effort to combat these challenges. Through this rigorous process, the sustainability council was able to see that there was a priority to focus time and effort towards maintaining a booming economy, improving access to resources for all individuals as well as improving air and water quality.
One particular issue that was mentioned was increasing the use of renewable energy sources. This ties back into their greater visions, since through investing and install renewable energy sources; individuals will actually be able to save some money. For example, it has been reported by drawdown that heavily investing in rooftop solar panels will lead to a 24.6 gigatons reduction in carbon emissions by the year 2050. This would go a long way towards helping address a growing problem in climate change. For any smart person, they would have noticed that I have yet to mention the economic cost required to pave the way for these solar panels. I am sure that some of you are thinking he didn’t write it down because this is idealistic and not feasible. The net implementation cost required to see the 24.6 gigatons reduction would cost $453.14 billion. While this is an awful lot of cash to splurge on a single intuitive, the net operational saving by the year 2050 would reach $3.46 trillion. So yes this would require a large amount of capital to initially fund the project, but long-term it would lead to a dramatic economic and environmental impact. These numbers would be for the entire United States to install rooftop panels. Places like Winter Garden would thrive off of increasing the number of solar panels, due to the number of sunny days that they get.
Image courtesy of http://www.solarpowerrocks.com/florida/
Florida is so interested in encouraging homeowners and companies to buy into renewable energy that they have even created some tax breaks for it. The genius part of installing a solar panel is that you just have to sit back and reap the rewards. As mentioned earlier the initial setup will force you to cough up some dough but in the grand scheme of things, you will continue to pay less and less for your energy until you reach the point where you are actually saving money. At which point you can continue to ride this momentum and further improve other household objectives such as windows and lights to further reduce your energy consumption, or you can take the extra cash and spend it. An additional $150 is required to get a permit to install the solar panel. However, on a happier note, the installation will connect your panel to the Winter Garden Utility grid. This means that any extra energy generated that is not used by you will result in the utility company paying you for the energy. If you are still unsure about the permitting process or wish to grasp a better sense of the financial breakdown for a panel.
The reason that I bore you with all of this renewable energy talk, is due to the fact that in the 2017 Sustainability Assessment they mention the desire to dramatically improve their energy usage. A chart found in the report states that in 2011 only 1.9% of the city’s energy was renewable or clean. That number grew to 21.8% by the time that the report came out. This suggests that residents and companies alike are realizing the importance and convenience of installing solar panels. Local officials are proud of the remarkable progress that it has made but or now setting the mark even higher. As a result, they want 40% of their energy to be clean by 2020 and 60% by 2030. While these might sound like unattainable goals, just remember how much of an improvement was made between 2011 and 2017. Any small change can go a long way. Help to be part of the green revolution that is taking place in Winter Gardens.