Achievement: Meager. Only three cities have green-building incentives (Gainesville, Miami Lakes and Sarasota). And the state still doesn't require greener development rules that could halt sprawl.
Effort: Improving. Gov. Charlie Crist has announced an ambitious green agenda, including cutting emissions, which has the power industry and business lobby squealing, but it will be years before those efforts pay off.
Weaknesses: Numerous. Mass transit is minimal, suburban sprawl (and suburban traffic) are endless, and air pollution is high. The 2007 Environmental Florida Carbon Boom report found that from 1990 to 2004, the state saw a 68.5 percent increase in carbon emissions, second only to Texas.
Note: If not for Crist, Florida would be flunking.
Achievement: Average. The region's largest city gets kudos for its longstanding curbside recycling program and its waste-to-energy plant.
Effort: Middling. Mayor Pam Iorio has stated that rail transit is a priority for the Bay area. Green projects in the works include Tampa Bay History Museum, Hillsborough Community College campus in Ruskin and a downtown office tower.
Weaknesses: Many. Tampa has no LEED-certified green buildings; lacks a city green-building ordinance (although it is working on one) and lacks incentives for developers to go green. Green-ness is not a priority of Iorio's administration; she signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection agreement only after 400 of her peers had already done so.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY: F+
Achievement: Dismal. The only reason the county gets a "plus" added to its "F" is because two suburban community projects — Highland Park in Citrus Park and Waterset in Apollo Beach — have applied for green certification.
Conduct: Poor. County leaders are unfriendly toward the environment, as seen in their attempt to kill local wetlands protections until a citizen revolt turned back the developer-driven effort.
Effort: Wan. What few green initiatives exist are either perfunctory or voluntary, such as a move to encourage builders to construct "green roofs" with planted vegetation. A new incentive, going into effect Jan. 1, will speed permitting for developers of green projects but hardly makes amends for decades of encouraging sprawl and blocking rail transit.
ST. PETERSBURG: B
Achievement: Up there. The city of green benches has been certified green by the Florida Green Building Council, has an urban-friendly building code, has made its downtown very livable and has provided reclaimed water for lawn irrigation for years.
Weakness: A glaring one: St. Pete has no curbside recycling.
PINELLAS COUNTY: B+
Achievement: Very good. The county has a waste-to-energy plant. It built the bicycle-and-pedestrian Pinellas Trail the length of the county. It's been certified green by the Florida Green Building Council, has the only three green-certified cities in Tampa Bay and has an Office of Sustainability. It also can boast (along with the city of Clearwater) about the Happy Feet Plus store on U.S. 19, the first LEED-certified retail building in the country when it was built in 2004.
Effort: Forward-thinking. County leaders were talking about rail systems decades ago, even though they lacked the ability to build one or convince neighboring counties to get on board.
Weakness: Familiar. Pinellas is still only considering a curbside recycling program,
Achievement: High. Over the past two decades, Dunedin has transformed its auto-filled downtown into a pedestrian-friendly oasis that is livable, walkable and lots of fun for drinking and eating. It is right on the Pinellas Trail, is a certified green city and has an Office of Sustainability within city government. And it built its new Community Center to "Silver" LEED standards, the third-highest green-building designation possible and the highest received by any project in Tampa Bay.
Weakness: Look around. Outside of downtown, much of Dunedin remains mired in suburban-sprawl-style development.
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