South Florida is one of the regions most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, especially sea level rise. Miami-Dade County is working to address the root cause: greenhouse gas emissions.
The County is making preparations by upgrading infrastructure, protecting vulnerable communities and supporting innovative solutions. Since 1991, the Board of County Commissioners has passed about 50 resolutions to establish an ecologically, economically and socially sensitive approach to climate change.
Greenhouse gas commitment and targets2015 community GHG emissions by sector
Miami-Dade County is working toward ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction goals for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions. The Mayor and Board of County Commissioners have committed to reducing GHG carbon pollution emissions from 2008 levels by 80 percent by 2050. The County has started by targeting the largest sources of emissions - electricity for buildings and transportation.
Part of this work includes conducting a community-scale GHG emissions inventory. To evaluate the GHG emissions and the contributing sectors, Miami-Dade County used ICLEI USA’s ClearPath, a software platform for completing GHG inventories following the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Emissions (GPC). The most recent community protocol-compliant inventory results for 2015 are below.
- Transportation & Mobile Services: 17,936,798 mt CO2e - 43 percent
- Commercial Energy: 7,942,393 mt CO2e - 19 percent
- Residential Energy: 7,170,668 mt CO2e - 17 percent
- Industrial Energy: 5,888,938 mt CO2e - 14 percent
- Solid Waste: 2,446,542 mt CO2e - 5.9 percent
- Water & Wastewater: 11,021 mt CO2e - 0.03 percent
Reducing carbon pollution
Miami-Dade County government efforts to reduce carbon pollution include:
- Sustainable buildings through Building Efficiency 305
- Strengthening energy in County operations through the Miami-Dade County Electricity Master Plan, an energy management program for county government operations
- The Energy Cost Avoidance Program (ECAP), a utility bill accounting, energy and water management software, which has saved the County millions of dollars
- Save Energy and Money (SEAM), a revolving loan fund that pays upfront capital costs for energy and water efficiency projects and is repaid by subsequent savings
- Internal Revenue Code 179D, which provides a federal tax deduction for installation of energy-efficient technologies. Under 179D, the Office of Resilience has recovered approximately $2.5 million
- Energy efficiency at Miami International Airport, the County's largest electricity consumer, resulting in a savings of more than $10 million and a reduction of 17 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Read more about FlyGreenMIA
- LED bulbs installed at County traffic lights. Nearly 75,000 traffic light signals have been replaced with LED modules. The old bulbs used 135 watts of electricity and the new bulbs use 10 watts, resulting in a projected $2 million annual savings
- Hybrid fleet and biofuels. Miami-Dade County has the third largest public hybrid fleet in the nation according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The County's hybrid electric vehicle fleet annually results a reduction of nearly 500,000 gallons of gasoline and thereby prevents over 6000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the environment. The fleet includes 429 hybrid-electric sedans, 13 hybrid-electric pickups, 152 plug-in hybrid sedans, 60 diesel-electric hybrid buses, 5 compressed natural gas buses and 64 hybrid hydraulic garbage trucks. The County plans to expand the number of alternative fuel vehicles in the future. The light fleet uses E10, a blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent unleaded gasoline, when available
- Turning waste into energy. The County's 77-megawatt Resources Recovery Facility is a technologically-advanced waste-to-energy plant, recycling the majority of the County waste (more than million tons annually) into biomass fuel
- Trash and recycling collection centers. There are two Home Chemical Collection Centers in Miami-Dade County to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals that enter the environment and 13 Neighborhood Trash and Recycling Centers to increase the number of new products made from recycled materials. Recycling is single-stream - all recyclable items are placed in one cart - which has increased participation in recycling
- Green purchasing guide. The Internal Services Department's Procurement Management Division has guidelines for County departments to reduce waste and increase environmental efficiency when making purchases through the green purchasing guidelines
- Resources Conservation Committee. The Resource Conservation Committee is made up of employee representatives from 50 Miami-Dade County departments who promote, facilitate and monitor the efforts of all County employees to reduce waste, increase recycling and use environmentally-friendly products
Sustainable buildings and infrastructure
Sustainable Buildings Program
Miami-Dade County’s Sustainable Buildings Program, as mandated by Sections 9-71 through 9-75 of the Code of Miami-Dade County, incorporates green building practices into the design, construction, renovation and maintenance of County-owned, County-financed and County-operated buildings. By adhering to these guidelines and incorporating high performance features into all County projects, value is added to its capital assets. Sustainable building supports the local economy, protects the environment and safeguards finite natural resources.
Per Ordinance 07-65, the County requires new County-owned, leased or managed construction projects to obtain the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification and remodeling and renovation projects to obtain basic LEED certification. There are nearly 30 green building projects to date and over 100 County employees are LEED Accredited Professionals (APs) or LEED Green Associates.
- Sustainable Buildings Program Annual Report: September 2013 to March 2016
- Sustainable Capital Improvement Procedures and Guidelines
To encourage energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly construction, the County offers a Green Building Expedited Plan Review program for commercial, industrial and residential green building-certified projects. In addition, the Green Sustainable Attributes program provides a way to verify and confirm the Green Attributes for products or systems that have a Miami-Dade County Notice of Acceptance (NOA).
LEED Green Building Rating System
The primary mechanisms for determining compliance with the Sustainable Buildings Program is the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System and the Institute for Infrastructure’s Envision Rating System. The Sustainable Buildings Program includes definitions of project types and the required standards for each category and provides guidance and resources to ensure compliance.
Since 2011, Miami-Dade County has achieved 15 LEED certifications and one Green Globes certification for County buildings.
List of County LEED certified buildings:
- Internal Services Department Trade Shops
- Marlins Ballpark
- Verde Gardens Neighborhood Project
- Miami International Airport Mover APM System Project
- PortMiami's Cruise Terminal D Expansion
- Internal Services Department's West Lot
- Community Action and Human Services Department's Regional Head Start Center
- Gran Via Apartments in District 11
- Miami Art Museum
- Children’s Courthouse
- Station No. 64 Miami Lakes
- Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens - Paul / Swanee DiMare Science Village
- Fire Rescue Station No. 70 Coconut Palm
- West Miami Fire Rescue Station 40 Addition
- Northeast Branch Library – Aventura
Green Globes certification
- MLK Transit Station Office Building
- Resolution #R-1200-05 established the incorporation of sustainable development building measures into the design, construction, renovation and maintenance of County-owned, County-financed and County-operated buildings
- Ordinance 07-65 amended the Code of Miami-Dade County to establish a Sustainable Buildings Program for Miami-Dade County facilities. In this legislation, the County established a program to promote the green design, construction and operation of buildings that are developed, constructed and managed by the County
A solar feasibility study for Miami-Dade County, released in October 2018, evaluated the feasibility of on-site solar energy generation and use at County properties.
With technical assistance from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the initial screening revealed 238 County facilities had suitable roof areas for photovoltaic panels.
Potential installation of photovoltaic panels at the 238 facilities were determined to have a total solar photovoltaic capacity of 61,725 kW and an annual solar energy production of 87,855,519 (87.8 million) kWh.
Following the initial feasibility study, a phase 2 analysis is recommended for detailed site-specific analysis to prioritize facilities for potential solar energy.
In all, solar photovoltaic technology has been integrated into many facilities throughout the County, including parks, school crosswalks and over 900 bus shelters.
Miami-Dade County achieved a SolSmart Gold designation by taking various steps to foster the development of a local solar market such as creating an online solar permitting checklist.
Preparing and adapting to climate change impactsAs Miami-Dade County works to reduce its carbon footprint and stop fueling climate change, it must also prepare for the impacts that we know are unavoidable, including sea level rise. The County is working to strengthen infrastructure, plan for more resilient communities, enhance natural protections and promote economic resilience through policies and task forces.
- The Sea Level Rise Task Force provided direction for the County’s sea level rise adaptation efforts, resulting in a series of reports:
- Executive summary
- Flooding and saltwater intrusion
- Adaptation action
- Environmentally endangered lands
- Enhanced capital plan
- Climate Change Advisory Task Force
- Resilient transportation system
- Capital Project Overview and the Rapid Action Plan. Miami-Dade County requires that all capital projects consider the impacts of sea level rise, per Resolution No. R-451-14. In 2017, the County assessed the vulnerability of its assets to ensure the capital planning process incorporated changing flood risks due to sea level rise and heightened storm surge. Dubbed the Rapid Action Plan, the project analyzed the vulnerability of more than 700 County-owned assets and evaluated their criticality to departmental operations
- Adaptation Action Areas. The County's pilot Adaptation Action Area was the Arch Creek Basin. In 2016, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) hosted an advisory services panel that produced a final report which focused on the area’s flood challenges. In advance of that panel, the County published a briefing book. In 2015, ULI’s recommendations were taken further through a Resilient Redesign III charrette aimed at enhancing the resilience of three low-lying areas within the Arch Creek basin. The final presentation showcases the ideas of the design teams. In 2017, with support from the Knight Foundation, the County partnered with Citymart to launch a Flood Resilience Challenge
- Local Mitigation Strategy. Local mitigation strategy projects handled by Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue and Emergency Management are designed to reduce our vulnerability to short-term risks like hurricanes and long-term stresses like sea level rise
- Infrastructure improvements include raising roads, installing pump stations, protecting existing buildings with temporary flood panels and building new infrastructures higher. Saltwater intrusion is also being addressed. Salt water is pushing further landward into the fresh water Biscayne Aquifer, which is increasing the vulnerability of the region’s drinking water. Rising sea levels also push salt water further into the Everglades, potentially causing loss of wetland plants and habitat. Salinity control structures have been built at the entrances of major canals to separate fresh water and salt water and canals have been restored through plug barriers. Explore the Sea Level Rise story map to learn more
- Nature-based solutions such as beach renourishment, shoreline restoration for living shorelines like mangroves and dune restoration, protection of open buffer space through parks and the Environmentally Endangered Lands Program, and protection of mangrove forests and other wetlands of the Everglades to provide a protective buffer against storms and long-term sea level rise. The County has also built artificial reefs to keep ecosystems healthy and support fishing industries
Outreach, collaboration and planning
- The County collaborates with Florida International University’s Sea Level Solutions Center to train citizen scientists to identify and assess areas impacted by flooding and the South Florida Water Management District to understand how sea level rise impacts flood risks related to our regional canal network. The Southeast Florida Climate Change Compact is a regional collaborative with Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties to identify climate change impacts
- Building better. Many businesses and institutions are working with architects and developers to determine their vulnerabilities and build higher and stronger in anticipation of future water levels. The insurance and reinsurance industries are leading the field in the preparation of better forecasts of the potential impacts, and in the creation of financial mechanisms to support economic resilience. The County assists these industries and individual property owners through Building Efficiency 305. In 2018, the County assessed the feasibility of creating a sea level rise checklist and plans to create a checklist in the future
- Miami-Dade County Development Plans. The County's sustainability plan, GreenPrint, has been developed to integrate with existing County plans, such as the Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP) and the Parks and Open Spaces Master Plan. These plans play an important role in protecting the County's resources