In recent years there has been a dramatic push for progressive cities. Largo is one of the cites that has bought into this notion. So much so that in the last year, Largo announced its plans of only using renewable energy by 2050. This makes them the 75th city in America to make this declaration and just the 4th city in Florida. In order to pursue this lofty goal, the city revised its environmental action plan to lay out all of the factors that they will need to improve in order to ascertain this goal. To become a sustainable and environmentally friendly city, Largo has to not just look at economic growth and success but also social and environmental implications that result from the economic decisions. This is not to suggest that the city hinder its local economy, but instead to simply consider all of the consequences of their actions. Equally, only focusing on the preservation of the coastline and its wildlife habit would also not be an ideal solution. To truly become a more environmentally friendly and sustainable city, Largo must balance social environmental and economic impacts.
Most of us, unfortunately, view success in terms of monetary value and place less of a value on social and environmental repercussions to may ensue. As large corporations invest huge amounts of money into the city in order for them to continue to grow and even sprawl in some cases. While on the surface building more job sites sounds awesome, after taking a closer look it is pretty apparent that these buildings are just furthering the environmental problems. It has been reported that buildings account for 32% of all energy usage and 19% of the greenhouse emissions. These numbers are even more exacerbated in America, with 40% of our energy consumption going towards operating these buildings. The reason that our buildings consume so much energy is through people being careless and leaving on the faucet when washing their hands. Thus, in order for us to reduce our carbon footprint and mitigate our environmental impact, we must go the extra miles and improve little things like leaving the lights on when leaving the room.
Largo is actively trying to address this issue by refining its environmental principles and policies. Pinellas County recently announced that all county buildings moving forward must comply with LEED or other green building standards. While this news will have a great impact on the environmental future of the city it does have its drawbacks. An ideal but totally not feasible solution would be for Largo to not only build energy efficient building for the future but also go back and retrofit the older building that are causing the greenhouse problem. Retrofitting is a way for companies to go back and improve the efficiency and quality of existing buildings. However, currently, only 1 to 3% of old buildings get retrofit per year meaning that we are going to have to live with old building for a long time to come. Overall, it is encouraging to hear that Largo is taking it upon itself to go and tighten building regulations and to work towards reducing their negative environmental impact.