An entrepreneur who’s bought a big chunk of downtown Miami while promising some mold-breaking surprises was apparently not kidding: He wants to build an eye-catching 49-story tower with apartments so small there’s no room for ovens in the tiny kitchens. And there’s no parking.

Actually, that last bit’s not quite right. There will be parking — for bicycles. Is Miami really ready for this?

Moving-company and arts mogul Moishe Mana — who’s also building a mini-city on a large swath of Wynwood and has lately spent tens of millions to buy up property on and around downtown’s Flagler Street — certainly thinks so.

A rendering of developer Moishe Mana’s proposed “micro-living” apartment tower. (Zyscovich Architects)

A rendering of developer Moishe Mana’s proposed “micro-living” apartment tower. (Zyscovich Architects)

He’s the first in Miami to formally propose putting up a building consisting entirely of what’s been dubbed “micro-units” — compact, hyper-efficient and affordable apartments meant for young singles who want to live in dense urban neighborhoods and get around primarily on foot and public transit. The plan, which Mana’s team says fully conforms with downtown zoning rules, will have its first and likely only public review before the city’s Urban Design Review Board on Monday

MicroApartments3The blueprint calls for 328 apartments starting at 400 square feet, the minimum allowed by city code. The penthouse units top out at a relatively generous 600 square feet, but most will be 500 square feet and under, said the project’s architect, Bernard Zyscovich.

The apartments would be equipped with built-in furnishings, including beds and tables, that tilt, fold or slide into walls and cabinets, Zyscovich said. And the building, at 200 North Miami Ave., would be flush with amenities, including built-in superfast WiFi and fully equipped common kitchens and dining rooms for when residents want to entertain.

“It’s like living in a Transformer,” Zyscovich said. “The idea was, let’s make these apartments in the urban core, let’s make them small and let’s build in all the stuff that makes it desirable. We’re going for that authentic coolness that comes from being in the middle of everything. It’s for a particular type of person, probably Millenials but not exclusively so, who want to live an urban life and simplify their life, and not have all their money going to rent and furniture and maintaining a car.”

Rents, which have not been set, would be at market rates, but would be significantly lower than the norm downtown and in surrounding neighborhoods like Brickell — where high costs have some renters taking in roommates and doubling up in bedrooms — by virtue of the apartments’ small size. The substantial savings Mana will realize by not having to build costly structured parking will also help keep rents down, Zyscovich said.

A rendering of developer Moishe Mana’s proposed “micro-living” apartment tower. (Zyscovich Architects)

A rendering of developer Moishe Mana’s proposed “micro-living” apartment tower. (Zyscovich Architects)

The project takes advantage of a zoning exemption that allows buildings close to transit stations in downtown Miami to dispense with parking. The building, on a sliver of land that Zyscovich said would make it hard to fit in a parking garage in any case, sits a short stroll from the Government Center Metrorail station, three Metromover stops and the station for the All Aboard Florida train service, now under construction.

There is lots to walk to nearby, including courthouses, government buildings and offices with tens of thousands of jobs, not to mention classes at Miami Dade College’s downtown campus two blocks away. The All Aboard station will have a food market, and Whole Foods and Publix stores can be reached by Metromover or city trolley.

Those who insist on having a car have options: The building site abuts a big city parking garage, and another public garage sits a couple of blocks away.

Two South Florida analysts predicted Mana will have no trouble renting out the building at a time where rents in Miami have risen much faster than salaries, creating a housing affordability crisis.

If Mana rents his apartments in the middle of the range for the area, or about $2.25 a square foot, that means someone could get into one of the 400-square-foot units for $900 a month, a relative bargain, while enjoying the privacy of his or her own space, noted Jack McCabe at McCabe Research in Broward County.

“They will fill it up,” McCabe said even as he expressed surprise at the apartments’ size and lack of fully equipped kitchens — though they will have cooktops. “Affordability is key right now. There is definitely demand for more-affordable rentals without a real kitchen in a cramped apartment that allows you to enjoy the lifestyle in downtown Miami.”

McCabe said the common kitchens, which Zyscovich said would have to be booked in advance, are a desirable feature for many people, and the compact units would not bother many of the South Americans and Europeans now flocking to the city who are used to living in smaller spaces than Americans.

The “micro-living” concept, which is catching on in other U.S. cities like Seattle, San Francisco and New York — the Big Apple’s first such building just opened in the Kip’s Bay neighborhood on the east side of Manhattan — can help solve not just the affordability problem but also relieve traffic congestion, said Suzanne Hollander, a broker and lawyer who teaches at Florida International University’s Hollo School of Real Estate.

“It’s very smart. It’s pioneering,” Hollander said. “Micro units are tiny solutions to big urban problems, and Miami is becoming a big urban city. It gives options to a lot of people who otherwise would not have them, so they can enjoy the urban living we are building.”

Micro-living buildings also carry other potential social benefits that could prove attractive not just to Millenials but also to retirees or business executives who need a pied-a-terre, she added.

“People sleep in a micro-unit. But, really, the whole building is their home,” Hollander said. “And the amenities here are amazing. What they’re trading is space for an A-plus location. This all encourages people to interact not just inside the building, but in the neighborhood, making everything more social.”

Another benefit, she said: Because the units are new and built to code, they are safer alternatives to the unregulated rooms in older homes or apartment houses that are often the only alternative for people on limited incomes.

Micro-units in New York and elsewhere are even smaller than Mana’s, with those in New York’s Carmel Place ranging from 260 to 360 square feet after the city waived its 400-square-foot minimum. That’s something some advocates are pushing to happen in Miami as well.

The no-parking alternative has a longer track record in Miami. Other developers have used the transit exemption to build no-parking residential towers downtown, including Related Group’s Loft buildings, but those units are for sale and tend to be larger. Units at Centro Miami, a high-rise condo tower now nearing completion, also without parking, range from 500 to over 1,111 square feet.

A new city zoning rule also allows for small buildings near transit routes to forgo parking. A small developer has broken ground on townhouse-like apartments without parking in East Little Havana.

Though Mana’s apartments will be small, the tower’s design aims to make a big impression, Zyscovich said. It looks like stacked blocks, with some sides on the west and south screened with a “veil” of metal mesh to shade them from the sun.

“It wants to say, I may filled with micro-units, but I’m cool,” the architect said.

 

Source: Miami Herald

Fort Lauderdale-based Stellar Homes Group has become the first developer in South Florida to include solar panels standard with all of its new projects.

Stellar Homes Group will include rooftop solar panels standard at Valero at Sailboat Bend in Fort Lauderdale

Stellar Homes Group will include rooftop solar panels standard at Valero at Sailboat Bend

The builder said that photo voltaic (PV) systems from Orlando-based Solar-Ray will be installed on the roofs of homes in its Cavalia Estates in Davie, Velero at Sailboat Bend in Fort Lauderdale, and Boca Villas in Boca Raton. Each PV panel would have a retail value of $9,160 to $16,128 per home, but Stellar Homes Group said it would include them without raising prices, and would include a 30-year warranty on them.

“Our 5Kw PV solar panel package, combined with Stellar Homes Group’s additional energy conservation features, is expected to result in an estimated energy cost savings of approximately $81,000 over 20 years,” Stellar Homes VP Tony Valle said. “Our homebuyers can choose a solar package to suit their needs and can take advantage of the 30 percent federal tax credit.”

StellarHomesSolarPanelsSolar-Ray President Michael Brown said its PV panels should save buyers $350 to $400 per month on utility bills. The systems will include free monitoring and control options for homeowners, he added.

Other green features of the Stellar Homes projects will include hybrid water heaters, positioning windows to maximize natural light, LED lighting, low flow shower heads and drought-resistant landscaping.

 

Source: SFBJ

Rising Sea Levels

Parts of Miami Beach could be inundated with flood waters in as little as 15 years, and property values may slide amid the rising tide, according to nearly two dozen university heads and climate change experts who were on hand to answer questions on the effects of sea-level rise on South Florida during a Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce event at the W Hotel.

Flooding in Miami Beach

Flooding in Miami Beach

The purpose of the recent event, organized by land use and environmental attorney Wayne Pathman, was to warn business owners, developers, and contractors that the effects of sea-level rise will be impacting the property values fairly soon. Already, media around the globe are publicizing the fact that South Florida is “ground zero” for the adverse economic impact of sea-level rise, Pathman argued. Unfortunately, the region is still behind in preparing its infrastructure for the future.

“All eyes are upon us and South Florida isn’t ready,” said Pathman, co-founder of the Downtown Miami-based law firm of Pathman Lewis LLP and future chairman of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Thanks to a slowing gulfstream, warming oceans, and ice flows submerging beneath the ocean from Greenland and Antarctica, the oceans are rising faster than ever, said Keren Bolter, research coordinator for Florida Atlantic University Center for the Environmental Studies. This has caused an increase in flooding events in recent years and it will only get worse. By 2100, the oceans are projected to increase by seven feet, Bolter added. At that level, The Keys, along with large chunks of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, will be inundated with sea water at high tide, destroying fresh water reserves, compromising underground sewage lines and septic tanks, and creating a host of other problems.

But you don’t have to wait 84-years to see the adverse effects of sea-level rise. Bolter said that in as little as 15 years, flooding in Belle Isle will grow much worse, especially at Island Terrace, a 16-story condo built in 1967. “It’s coming up not just at the sides,” she said while showing Lidar maps depicting future sea-level rise at Island Terrace and Belle Isle.

“It comes up from underground. That’s partly because the limestone that South Florida land is predominately made of us is extremely porous. Because of this, not even sea walls will stop the flow of water,” Bolter said.  “By 2060 the oceans are projected to rise by two feet. At that level, “the western half of Miami Beach is under water.”

“As the oceans rise, the cost of insurance will skyrocket,” Pathman said.  “Meanwhile, in an attempt to cope with the new reality, community leaders will raise taxes while property taxes are declining. As for the infrastructure of future residential and commercial projects, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado recently declared on a radio show that the financial burden will fall on developers. However, at least some of the negative impacts of sea level rise can be mitigated if the business community takes a leadership role now. Many places around the world have already started adapting.”

Among the invited guests at the chamber event were Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg, Florida Atlantic University President John Kelly, and University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science Dean Roni Avissar. They argued that their respective colleges are already training scientists and engineers who are not only studying the future effects of climate change, but also figuring out solutions on how communities like South Florida can adapt.

“We are very fortunate that we have a strong university system and a strong system of public education,” argued Matthew Welker, principal of MAST Academy at Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay campus. “That’s a very valuable resource.”

Josh Sawislak, global director of resilience for the Los Angeles-based engineering firm AECOM, said Miami could even replace Amsterdam as the true innovator of anti-flooding solutions.

“The brand can be, ‘This is a resilient city… Don’t go to Amsterdam to see how to prevent from being cut off by the sea, although they’ve got tasty cheeses. Come to Miami and see how to live with water,’” Sawislak declared.

One innovative idea has already been hatched in Miami. Rather than fight sea level rise, Bolter of FAU pointed out that “one student from the University of Miami” came up with the idea of simply making western Miami Beach “floodable” with the creation of new bays and living shorelines along with new boardwalks and flood-adapted buildings. (The UM student in question who developed that plan is Isaac Stein, who now works for the urban planning and landscape firm West 8.)

Besides speeches from experts, the event included an hour-long breakout session where business leaders sat at tables and asked questions to the assembled experts, some of whom flew in from other parts of the country to be there. The media, however, was ushered away from the session. Upon hearing that reporters were even present at the event, Donald Kipnis, founder and CEO of Brickell-based Development Service Solutions, walked out. Dozens of other chamber members left before the session even ended.

Harold Wanless, chair of the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Miami, didn’t think the breakout session was long enough. Experts barely had 10 minutes to answer business leaders’ questions or lay out what needs to be done.

“We need to be planning, that is the bottom line,” said Wanless, who has long studied past sea-level rise events in Florida.

Following the breakout session, Jessica Goldman Srebnick, CEO of Goldman Properties, applauded the panel’s efforts. She also urged some restraint. Showing slides that show Miami Beach being submerged is what “gets picked up by the news.”

“We have to be very… strategic about how we discuss the reality of sea level rise,” Goldman said.

Pathman said the purpose of the event was just to “whet everyone’s appetite.” On September 14, the chamber plans to hold a roundtable discussion with “leading political and civic leaders about current and future strategies for sea level rise in South Florida” at a location to be announced.

 

Source: The Real Deal

Green buildings have a number of different features that are great for the environment, but it turns out that they’re also great for the owners and landlords who rent them out.

A new study conducted at the University of Guelph shows that green office buildings have higher occupancy rates and more satisfied tenants.

Researchers reached this conclusion after analyzing ten years of data from one of North America’s largest commercial real estate firms. It examined many different kinds of variables, including monthly rents, lease renewals, energy and water consumption, and tenant satisfaction.

Higher Occupancy And Satisfaction

For nearly 300 green buildings in North America – 148 in Canada and 143 in the United States – green buildings scored better in these categories than their non-green counterparts. Buildings were only able to qualify for the study by meeting energy efficiency and sustainability standards based on LEED, BOMA BEST, and ENERGY STAR certification programs.

“This is one of the most in-depth analyses of sustainable and energy efficient building operations to date,” said Avis Devine, housing professor at Guelph.

Researchers found that occupancy rates in green buildings were higher in Canada and the United States by 18.7% and 9.5%, respectively. To some this may be surprising, considering that the average rent prices were 3.7% higher in both countries.

In Canada, tenant renewal rates were 5.6% higher for green buildings, and tenant satisfaction scores were 7% higher. Energy consumption was also much lower in green buildings. Researchers found that energy consumption per square foot was 14% lower in U.S. green buildings.

Unique And Precise

The study is a substantial due to its precise nature and the amount of data that was covered.

“Previous studies have suggested correlations between green buildings and financial outcomes but none have included such diverse metrics across a large portfolio, and covering such a substantial period of time,” said Devine.

The time reference is perhaps one of the best facets of the study that makes it unique. The 10-year period that the researchers analyzed stretched from 2004-2013, a time when North American housing markets went through boom, bust, and recovery periods.

The researchers hope that their study will allow green buildings to flourish in North American housing markets.

“Building owners and investors are affected by the choices they make on investments in energy and sustainability issues . . . This study is an important step toward mapping the business case for more sustainable building,” said Devine.

The full study has been published in the Journal of Portfolio Management.

 

Source: Consumer Affairs

One day Miami’s Design District may produce electricity using renewable energies, and have buildings adorned with rooftop gardens and structures that serve as indoor farms, with multiple levels of crops mixed with fresh markets and restaurants.

CraigRobins, Rodolphe-el-Khoury and Vicente Guallart

CraigRobins, Rodolphe-el-Khoury and Vicente Guallart

University of Miami architecture students are collaborating with Design District developer Craig Robins on ideas to make the neighborhood more technologically and environmentally friendly.

During a class at the university’s Coral Gables campus on Monday, the students — who are divided into six two-member teams — gave Robins their first presentations on how the Design District can become a prototype for how cities of the future can incorporate smart technology and sustainable energy.

“The university was very interested in working with the Design District to develop our vision on how we can add more value,” said Vicente Guallart, a visiting professor who was previously the chief architect in Barcelona, Spain. “Technology is not only about upgrading old systems, but also to introduce new principles.”

Architecture school dean Rodolphe el-Khoury said the students are participating in a class that teaches them to embrace emerging technologies in the shaping and the planning of Miami neighborhoods.

“Guallart was the obvious choice to lead this effort given his track record in transforming Barcelona into a smart city,” el-Khoury said. “The Design District has been very open to new trends and new thinking with a very enlightened developer. We recognized there is a synergy between our efforts and Craig Robins’ agenda in seeking innovation.”

Each team presented graphics and data on six topics: energy consumption, urban agriculture, urban re-industrialization, social interaction, the environment, and mobility. The energy consumption team presented a heat map and proposed how to produce electricity in the Design District using renewable energies. The urban agriculture team presented a proposal for rooftop gardens and new buildings that serve as indoor farms with multiple levels of crops mixed with fresh markets and restaurants.

The urban re-industrialization team showed renderings of digital fabrication factories that would produce products made of recycled materials. The social interaction team used geotagged social media posts to determine which pockets of the Design District lack human activity and proposed placing retail stores and restaurants along those areas. The two other teams are still developing proposals that will be finalized in December.

Robins, president and CEO of Dacra, told the students he was impressed with all their ideas. However, he said that some of the proposals would not be practical in the Design District. For instance, Robins commended the urban agriculture team for suggesting a multi-level urban farm on a property facing Biscayne Boulevard and abutting I-195.

“The land you identified will eventually have a building,” Robins said. “One thing to look at is the zoning and maybe get an additional two to three floors on top of the building for an urban farm.”

Robins also said a factory making products from recycled material would have a hard time staying in business.

“The challenge is  that you ultimately need a successful product,” Robins said. “The gap between being able to get to that from something that is thrown away is the hard part.”

 

Source: The Real Deal

There’s a fierce battle being waged in Florida over access to one of our state’s greatest resources: the sun.

With the effects of climate change ever more obvious, solar is a scorching-hot policy topic, and we’re seeing a lot of activity around two competing solar ballot initiatives in Florida — one backed by solar advocates and the other by utility companies.

The result? Even for die-hard solar power believers, the fight has gotten beyond confusing. So here’s a breakdown of the green energy tussle:

What’s The Problem With Solar In Florida?

With our bounty of sunshine, the Sunshine State should be a model for solar. But Florida, which ranks third in the nation in rooftop solar energy potential, currently comes in at number 13 in the amount of solar energy generated. We also have some of the lowest solar investment in the country. Instead, consumers rely on Florida’s “dirty” energy mix — natural gas (62 percent), coal (21 percent), and nuclear (12 percent).

Why Are We Lagging So Far Behind?

For a long time, everybody thought solar panels were only for rich people. But that’s not the reality anymore — the equipment is now affordable and accessible. In many states, consumers purchase from among hundreds of companies that install rooftop solar panels at little or no cost. In California, for instance, companies lease rooftop solar equipment to homeowners and bill them monthly for the electricity created, which lets homeowners enter the market for little or no money down and pay as they go.

But in Florida, consumers who want to get solar are forced to rely on big utility companies, like Florida Power & Light, which aren’t making it easy or cheap. In fact, Florida is one of only four states that require solar energy be sold exclusively by utilities. The result is limited options for installing solar and increased upfront financial commitment for consumers, which creates a major obstacle for most people.

What’s The Proposal To Change It?

After it became clear that politicians weren’t going to get it done, some upstart citizen groups decided to take things into their own hands. They created a 2016 ballot initiative, which would open up the state’s solar market, giving consumers a number of options for getting solar panels themselves. Floridians for Solar Choice, the group behind the initiative, is backed by an unlikely alliance — from environmentalists to Tea Party libertarians — who view the lack of consumer choice as both harmful to the environment and an infringement on personal freedom.

If it succeeds, the ballot initiative would let voters decide if they want to change Florida’s constitution to allow businesses other than utilities to sell solar power to consumers. Homeowners would also get the flexibility to enter into contracts with solar companies, also known as Solar Power Purchase Agreements (SPPA). Florida would be the 47th state to allow SPPAs.

What’s The Process To Get This Passed?

Before the amendment can happen, it first has to get on the ballot for voters. To get there, the group must collect signatures from 683,149 Florida voters, or 8 percent of the votes cast in the 2012 presidential election, by February. They also have to raise money to be able to pay county election supervisors 10 cents for each signature submitted. And the ballot language must also get the green light from the Supreme Court (which is likely to happen this week).

Right now, the Solar Choice campaign has about 171,000 verified signatures with another 100,000 awaiting verification. It has raised $1.3 million, most of it from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. It’s also been endorsed by a slew of environmental groups, both local and national.

So Who’s Against This?

Who do you think? The utility companies, silly. A group called Consumers for Smart Solar is challenging the amendment with its own rival ballot initiative, which seeks to keep the solar market strictly in the hands of the utilities and prevent homeowners or businesses from contracting with solar companies. It was created with cash from utilities like FPL, Gulf Power Co., and Tampa Electric Co. as well as groups tied to the billionaire Koch brothers. (Much of the Kochs’ vast wealth comes from their oil refinery and pipeline business.)

But backers of expanded solar power say the amendment is purposely crafted to mix up voters at the polls. According to the Energy and Policy Institute, “Consumers for Smart Solar is a utility and fossil fuel-funded campaign designed to confuse voters, attack the pro-solar Floridians for Solar Choice Ballot initiative, and protect the monopoly utilities.”

How Do I Sign The Solar Choice Amendment?

Go here, download the petition, and mail it in. You cannot fill it out online.

 

Source: Miami New Times

According to a USGBC study, green building design is outpacing the growth of conventional construction sector in the US.

GreenJobsPopularity of  green building sector is rapidly increasing and it is set to create more the 2.3 million jobs for Americans, this year – reveals the 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study report prepared by Booz Allen Hamilton.

Key findings of this study indicate that the contribution of green building industry is estimated to be more than $134.3 billion towards labor income for working Americans. Experts predict that by 2018, green building sector will create more than 3.3 million jobs, and will exceed one third of the total amount of jobs generated by the conventional construction industry in US. This will result in $190.3 billion towards labor earnings.

The study also dwelled into the economic contribution of sustainable buildings to the US economy and also quantified the economic impact of LEED certified green buildings. Today more than 2.3 million US workers are receiving $134 billion annually; this is because businesses, institutions and individual building owners are prioritizing sustainability for design, construction and operation of buildings. Consecutively this has also led to growing demand of green building programs such as LEED.

“Our research shows that green building has created millions of jobs and contributed hundreds of billions of dollars to the U.S. economy, with the construction of LEED-certified buildings accounting for about 40 percent of green construction’s overall contribution to GDP in 2015. This industry is certainly on the rise, and aggressive growth in the green building sector is anticipated over the next four years.” Said David Erne, a Senior Associate at Booz Allen.

GreenJobs2In addition to jobs, GDP and labor earnings, prioritization of green building design will also significantly influence tax contributions of individual states and environmental asset indicators at both national and state levels. It is estimated that construction projects for LEED buildings will generate total earnings that will reach around $8.4 billion till 2018. It is also anticipated that the green building sector will generate 1.26 million jobs from 2015 to 2018, in Texas.

GreenJobs3Compared to conventional buildings, a green building with LEED standards, uses less energy and water, it makes optimized use of natural resources and generates lower utility bills. Green homes generate less waste, and cause minimum impact on the land it is built. Living in a green building is healthier and economical for its occupants. Naturally the demand and popularity of green design has increased. As the sector progresses it will also affect the growth green building materials. A BBC research report has indicated that green builting material market will reach $69 billion by 2019.

GreenJobs4While the USGBC study mainly talks about the growth of green building design in US, the trend is also gaining pace in UK, Australia and Middle East and over 60 other countries.

Earlier there were no clear drivers of green design, however the 2012 survey reported that client and market demand are the key drivers for green building design adoption. This demand has just kept on increasing and there is no looking back – today –

  • Firms are finding business value and immense opportunities from green buildings – this not only includes economic benefits but also an opportunity to contribute towards environmentally responsible building design.
  • Building owners and developers across the globe are prioritizing a sustainable approach towards building design. Becoming self-reliant for energy needs has become a popular trend as the NZEB wave has gripped the industry.
  • Today home owners are also demanding for more than just plush interiors and impressive exteriors, they want lower utility bills without compromising on comfort and aesthetics.

Green building design plays a pivotal role in introducing energy efficiency in buildings and hence lower utility bills and has set a benchmark for design, construction and operation of buildings.

 

Source: Archinect

Florida is known to be the wettest state in the nation, but a 13-day winter cold front in 2010 sent two Hillsborough towns into a water management crisis.

Excessive groundwater pumping by strawberry farmers spraying to keep their produce alive caused wells to dry up, sinkholes to open and the amount of water available to neighboring households to plummet.

Since then, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, or Swiftmud, has taken a hard look at the cumulative effects of groundwater pumping, said Claire Muirehead, water use permit evaluation manager.

“We need to be able to provide water supply for the people that we have in our state now, but we also need to make sure that there is available water supply for future generations while also protecting the environment,” Muirehead said.

Florida pulls almost 15 billion gallons of water per day from fractures and pores beneath the Earth’s surface and from existing surface water, according to data compiled by AP-APME from the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water-Use Information Program. About 14 billion gallons are used each day in households and factories and for irrigation, livestock, aquaculture, thermoelectric power plants and mining.

Hillsborough County is the biggest consumer, drawing 1.9 billion gallons per day and using 1.6 billion gallons per day on its power plants.

Sarasota and Manatee, by contrast, are among the counties that pump the least amount of groundwater each day. Public consumption and irrigation are the biggest draws.

Public water use in Sarasota County requires about 31.3 million gallons per day, while irrigation takes 10.3 million gallons, according to the USGS. data. The county is now focusing on preparing for population growth, said Christopher Cole, Sarasota County’s public utilities planning supervisor.

“It’s always been a challenging process,” Cole said. “I have reports that go back to the late ’60s talking about planning for future water supply to meet future demands.”

Manatee County, with a large swath of agriculture remaining, swallows 126.5 million gallons on a daily basis, with 84.9 million gallons going to irrigation. It is the ninth largest user of irrigated water in the state. Palm Beach and Hendry top the list.

THE STATEWIDE PICTURE

Statewide, electric power plants are among the largest users of water.

They boil the precious resource to drive their steam-driven turbine generators, then use it to cool their power producing equipment and the hot water before discharge. They also use water for scrubbing and other forms of pollution abatement.

The counties that pull the most water are the ones fueling and cooling thermoelectric plants. The fact that power plants are such gluttons for water is why they are built along lakes and rivers. But since the 1970s, power plants have relied increasingly on reclaimed water from sewage plants.

“We now have 10 power plants in the district using reclaimed water and we are continuing to encourage anyone who has a power plant to use reclaimed water,” said Anthony Andrade, Swiftmud’s reuse coordinator.

The Big Bend plant in Apollo Beach uses it. So does the City of Tampa‘s waste-to-energy facility on McKay Bay and the Duke Energy plant in Bartow.

“The wonderful thing about Florida is that farms and power plants need that water in different seasons,” Andrade said. “Power plants need it most in the summer when it rains and lot, and farms need it in the winter when it’s dry.”

Florida’s five water management districts have encouraged use of reclaimed water across industries in order to reduce demand for groundwater pumping and promote water conservation.

“We have to balance the water use between the environment and our needs,” Cole said. “We can’t use all the water and not leave any for nature.”

 

Source: Watchdog Sarasota

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Tuesday that China and the United States could work together to address cyber crimes, a problem that has sparked mutual tension.

In this Nov. 12, 2014, file photo, President Barack Obama toasts with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a lunch banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. There could be some awkward undercurrents when the Chinese president is honored with a state dinner at the White House on Friday. The Obama's will honor a guest whose country has been accused of cyberspying, trampling on human rights and engaging in assertive military tactics. Greg Baker, File-Pool AP Photo

In this Nov. 12, 2014, file photo, President Barack Obama toasts with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a lunch banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. There could be some awkward undercurrents when the Chinese president is honored with a state dinner at the White House on Friday. The Obama’s will honor a guest whose country has been accused of cyberspying, trampling on human rights and engaging in assertive military tactics. Greg Baker, File-Pool AP Photo

Xi’s statement came shortly after leaders from both countries signed an agreement to advance renewable energy and clean technologies to combat climate change. Xi, in a speech in Seattle at the end of the first day of his official visit to this country, also said China would continue its policy of aggressive development to help more Chinese people “live a better life.”

Striking agreements to ensure continued robust international trade was a top priority, he said. “China will never close its open door to the outside world,” Xi said, according to a translation of his remarks. He said China was a staunch defender of cyber security, but it had also been a victim of hacking.

Acknowledging that China and the United States don’t always see eye to eye, Xi said China is ready to set up a joint effort with the United States to fight cyber crimes. The issue of cyber attacks is a sensitive one between the two nations. American officials say hacking attacks originating from China are approaching epidemic levels.

As Xi spoke Tuesday evening, protesters gathered near the downtown hotel he was staying at, objecting to things like the country’s policies in Tibet and other issues.

Earlier Tuesday, meetings with governors from five U.S. states and local Chinese officials produced the deal to work on clean energy. “We can be the core for our national leaders to learn from,” Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who has made five trips to China in five years, told his counterparts.

Xi arrived in Seattle for talks on how U.S. and Chinese experts and businesses can collaborate on issues such as nuclear energy and smarter electricity use. The visit comes a year after Xi and Obama announced their nations would cooperate to fight climate change.

“These are the largest economies in the world, and we’re the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, so improving cooperation and collaboration is really a necessity,” said Brian Young, Washington state director of economic development for the clean technology sector. “Second, it’s a huge business opportunity. Both sides recognize the opportunity for job creation.”

The governors who met with Xi included Snyder, Jay Inslee of Washington, Jerry Brown of California, Terry Branstad of Iowa and Kate Brown of Oregon. All five — along with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, who did not attend the meeting — signed the accord in which they agreed take actions to reduce transportation emissions, support clean energy technologies and exchange ideas.

Chinese leaders at the meeting included Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun, Shandong Gov. Guo Shuqing and others.

U.S.-China cooperation on climate-change has been a warm and fuzzy point of relations between the superpowers.

In November 2009, Obama and then-President Hu Jintao formalized a renewable energy partnership, including the establishment of clean-energy research centers focused on electric vehicles, cleaner coal and water energy programs.

Last November, Obama and Xi announced that the countries would work together on climate change, with China announcing it would try to cap its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, or sooner if possible.

By contrast, hacking attacks on the U.S., said to be directed by Beijing; China’s moves to assert its territorial claims in the South China Sea; and human rights issues have been sore spots.

Xi’s visit to the U.S. includes a state dinner on Friday with President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. The trip comes at a time when China’s economic growth has slowed considerably as the communist nation overhauls its economy.

Some clean-tech firms in Washington state, which relies largely on hydropower and where natural gas is currently cheap, may find markets and investment in China sooner than they might domestically.

Also on Tuesday, TerraPower Inc., an energy company founded by Bill Gates, entered into an agreement with China National Nuclear Corp. to work together on next-generation technology for nuclear power plants.

China invested a record $83 billion in renewable energy last year, according to the Frankfurt School’s Center for Climate and Sustainable Energy Finance in Germany.

Supporters turned out in Seattle to welcome the Chinese president and other dignitaries traveling in his motorcade.

Wendy Hu, a native of Guangdong Province who has lived in Seattle for 20 years, brought her 11-year-old daughter, Anna Ni. “China and the U.S. are good partners now, with Boeing and Microsoft,” Hu said. “I love both countries.”

Hundreds of protesters from the religious group Falun Gong also demonstrated, holding banners and banging drums as the motorcade passed. Falun Gong says its members are persecuted in China. “It’s about compassion and tolerance,” said Sabrina Chang, 28, who traveled to Seattle with other Falun Gong practitioners for the protest.

 

Source: Miami Herald

The cost of solar power is at a record low.

A typical solar home can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year on their electricity bill.

As a volunteer with the Boston-based solar program Solarize Massachusetts and a solar homeowner, Carl Elkin, Engineering Lead for Project Sunroof, has always been surprised at how many people think that “my roof isn’t sunny enough for solar,” or “solar is just too expensive.” Certainly many of them are missing out on a chance to save money and be green.

Enter Project Sunroof, his recent 20% project. Project Sunroof is a new online tool that is being tested to help homeowners explore whether they should go solar. Available in the San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno (in central California), and the Boston area for now, the tool uses high-resolution aerial mapping (the same used by Google Earth) to help calculate a roof’s solar energy potential, without having to climb up any ladders.ProjectSunRoof2

If you’re in one of our test regions, simply enter your address and Project Sunroof will crunch the numbers. It first figures out how much sunlight hits your rooftop throughout the year, taking into account factors like roof orientation, shade from trees and nearby buildings, and local weather patterns. You can also enter your typical electric bill amount to customize the results. The tool then combines all this information to estimate the amount you could potentially save with solar panels, and it can help connect you with local solar providers.

Google has always been a big believer in zero-carbon energy, and solar power has been a central part of that vision — from accelerating the growth of rooftop solar, to helping finance the largest solar farm in Africa, to building one of America’s biggest campus solar arrays in Mountain View. While Project Sunroof is in a pilot phase for now, during the coming months Google will be exploring how to make the tool better and more widely available. If you find that your address isn’t covered by the tool yet, you can leave your email address and you will be notified when Project Sunroof is ready for your rooftop!

View a video on the introduction of “Project Sunroof” below.

 

Source: Google Green Blog