Leading up to this year’s Green Day, on October 21st, 2017, the Greater Miami Shores Chamber of Commerce wants to provide attendees with important, up to date, information about renewable energy, environmental stewardship, and sustainability initiatives. The Chamber and the Green Day Committee are working hard to find exhibitors, participants, and vendors that educate and motivate attendees toward greener living. As part of this commitment, the Chamber is sponsoring a monthly series in the Egret focusing on Green Living. We hope you enjoy these informative pieces, but more importantly, we hope you get involved, take action and GO GREEN!
The term “carbon footprint” should no longer be foreign to us because it’s so commonly used in everyday conversations, found in product or event descriptions, and even seen in slick slogans. It’s used often because it helps us understand the amount of greenhouse gases (e.g. carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, etc.) emitted into the atmosphere from engaging in fossil fuel consumption-related activities like using energy, travelling, and buying certain products. So, the bigger the carbon footprint, the larger the amounts of greenhouse gases, like CO2, that are emitted into the atmosphere. And, as we all know by now, high levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases are linked to the current global warming phenomenon. Should we be worried? Yes, because this warming trend will have significant impacts on natural and ecological cycles that we take for granted. The latest research shows that atmospheric CO2 concentrations have risen from roughly 280 parts per million (ppm) during the start of the Industrial Revolution to approximately 400 ppm currently–a 40% rise. One of the most significant impacts of global warming for our community is the forecast that calls for rising sea levels because this will cause massive flooding in our streets, rapidly degrade our infrastructure, and cause a host of other problems.
Yes, correcting the man-made global warming problem is a HUUUGE world-wide undertaking, but we can, and must, do our part by taking meaningful actions to reduce our own carbon footprints in our own communities. So, what actions can we (residents, businesses, municipalities) take that will significantly reduce our carbon footprints? Well, since much of the electricity that powers our homes and buildings in our area is generated by burning fossil fuels (e.g., natural gas, coal, etc.) and we use a considerable amount of electricity (especially in the summer), it makes sense that by reducing, or even eliminating, the use of electricity generated from fossil fuels we’ll lower our carbon footprint! Currently, 80% of the fuel used by Florida Power and Light comes from fossil fuels and a little over 1% comes from renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
If utilities are not transitioning to renewable energy sources fast enough, then it’s up to us to use these sources! In fact, using solar power for your entire house can potentially reduce a household’s carbon footprint by 20%-28% per year! The great thing is that solar power systems are now very affordable (for both utilities and individuals) due to low equipment prices and availability of great financing programs, like Ygrene. In addition to significantly lowering your carbon footprint, solar power systems also save you a tremendous amount of money because you avoid the typical 5% annual increase in utility-provided electricity and, eventually, your energy is free! There are other methods to reduce your household carbon footprint and one of the best websites to determine your ideal individual footprint reduction actions is www.coolclimate.berkeley.edu/calculator.
If you are interested in joining a volunteer group, comprised of professional and energized local residents, that is looking to take direct and significant actions at reducing the carbon footprint in our community, please contact Karl Markeset for more information. The group is forming its list of actions now and they plan on accomplishing great things in the near future (e.g., reduce municipal solar power permit fees, work with Commissioners to use renewable energy sources, set up scholarships for children, etc.).
Written by Karl Markeset, Founder/Owner of Solimax, solar transition/installation company. 786-269-0440, or email Solimax.