Sunday, May 3, 2015

Orlando Moving Toward a Sustainable Future with Envision 2040 Led by Mayor Buddy Dyer

photo by Michael Pelzer
By Michael J Morris

Buddy Dyer, the visionary mayor of Orlando, Florida, challenged his community to develop a plan that would transform Orlando, within a generation, into one of the most environmentally-friendly, economically and socially vibrant communities in the nation. It now ranks 39th on the list of most livable cities in the United States.

On my most recent regular visit to Orlando, I was once again impressed by the efforts led by Mayor Dyer to move the city beyond its fame from the home of Disney World and related tourist activities -- even though on this trip I had a wonderful time at  Universal Orlando and similarly at  Gatorland on a previous trip, and I was totally impressed with the experience.

The Green Works Orlando Community Action Plan will include energy, green economy, livability, local food, solid waste, transportation and water goals, centred around the results from Envision 2040, an ideas competition which aims to illustrate what the city will look like in the future.

To get it all underway, a 20 member task force was appointed to make recommendations, and the action plan evolved out of input from round table meetings with subject matter experts, public comments, and, this one I really like, to ensure public participation -- an interactive online forum.

Envision 2040, the ideas competition is a first step and architects, planners, landscape architects, design professionals, artists, citizens, and students over 18 who are creative and advocates for a sustainable future of the City of Orlando were all encouraged to participate. The ideas competition sought input from interested persons locally,. nationally and internationally, not just Orlando.

After hearing about this community action plan. I visited the Green Works Orlando web site to get more information on Envision 2040 and discovered that those who responded to the challenge were encouraged to think creatively in their approach.

The competition intentionally allow(ed) for many different approaches to fulfill the submittal requirements. Applicants were free to design at the site, corridor, neighbourhood, or the city-wide scale...or a little of each....or in any other manner that you can dream up," the submission guidelines said. Registration has now closed and some projects completed.

Here are some results taken from the City of Orlando web site:

Some Green Works Orlando successes include:
  • Expanded the Downtown LYMMO bus circulator and completed SunRail
  • Launched car-sharing with bike-sharing
  • Performed energy efficiency retrofits to 1,200 houses
  • Completed ten LEED-certified municipal buildings, plus two more currently under construction
  • Completed or approved $19 million in energy efficiency investments to municipal buildings
  • Converted hundreds of fleet vehicles to electric, hybrid, or compressed natural gas
  • Planted 10,000 trees and established five community gardens
  • Increased recycling collection by 35%
  • Adopted the 2012 Municipal Operations Sustainability Plan and the 2013 Green Works Orlando Community Action Plan

It adds: The ultimate beneficiaries of our work will be our children and grandchildren. We are continuing our efforts to guide Orlando on a course toward long-term sustainability. Working together, we can make a cleaner, greener and better Orlando for generations to come.

Orlando, like some other forward thinking communities, realizes that the future is now, and it is time to move beyond today to plan for environmentally-friendly, economically and socially vibrant places to live, work and play tomorrow.

If Orlando, Florida, can do it, why not your community?  My email

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