The Village of Pinecrest is a residential community located in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The area is on the front line of a changing climate due to low elevations, high population densities, and porous limestone topography, which make it difficult to keep out floodwaters. As a result, even modest amounts of sea level rise have the potential to significantly disrupt communities. In the City of Miami alone, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development estimates $416 billion worth of assets are at risk due to rising sea levels. To respond to this threat, Miami-Dade and three other nearby counties formed the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact to foster resilience and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Beginning in 2010, Pinecrest aligned itself with these efforts by establishing sustainability as a core value and setting goals to reduce its use of energy and fossil fuels. The village also joined the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), an organization that helps governments achieve their sustainability, climate protection, and clean energy goals.
To complete the first step in ICLEI’s climate mitigation process, Pinecrest needed to develop a GHG inventory to establish a baseline for the village’s sustainability measures. RS&H was commissioned to lead this initiative and analyze the results. The inventory will help Pinecrest track the progress of its sustainability initiatives and make informed decisions about investments to reduce energy use and lower emissions. In many cases, operational inefficiencies identified in the course of the inventory lead to considerable savings when corrected.
GHG inventories are calculated by adding up all of an organization’s emissions from a variety of sources, such as buildings, industry, wastewater treatment, vehicle fleets, power generators, and others. Since these emissions are not typically measured directly, they must be estimated based on secondary factors, such as fuel consumption.
To prepare the report, RS&H obtained data from the county, local utility companies, the Florida Department of Transportation, and other providers. We estimated emissions from transportation, which contributed to the largest share of Pinecrest’s community inventory, using an innovative combination of federal, state, and regional transportation models. The team also prepared a forecast for the community, using trends in transportation fuel use, population, and economic growth to estimate future emissions in 2014, 2020, and 2030.
In December 2013, RS&H delivered the report and findings to the Village of Pinecrest. The results were similar to those of many other communities, indicating that energy use in buildings, vehicle fleets, and employee commuting contribute to Pinecrest’s most significant sources of emissions. The detailed information contained in the report will help the village find the most productive and cost-effective ways to improve performance through its sustainability programs.
--By Nathan Stinnette
Nathan Stinnette is a Sustainability Professional for RS&H’s Aerospace & Defense Practice. Mr. Stinnette has more than six years of professional experience in natural resource conservation, and more than four years of experience in sustainability planning. His areas of expertise include greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories; sustainability planning, communications and engagement; environmental compliance; environmental assessment; and GIS. He can be reached at Nathan.Stinnette@rsandh.com.