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GreenKeys! Focus Area Recommendations and Priorities

Government Operations

Sustainable government operations are efficient and resilient.  Such operations are cost-effective and typically have a longer useful life for county taxpayers.  Improving the sustainability of government operations is important to the county not only economically; it is equally important to lead by example and demonstrate the benefits of sustainability improvements to both residents and visitors.

Recommendations for the Government Operations focus area increase the sustainability and resilience of Monroe County operations, from energy and water conservation to green product purchasing and waste reduction.  They also cover renovating and upgrading facilities and infrastructure.

Climate & Energy

Monroe County has been committed to addressing energy and climate issues since the early 2000s.  Beginning in 2005, the county started monitoring greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with the goal of reducing emissions from county operations and the community.

Natural Systems

Although the natural habitats of Monroe County are among the most highly protected and strictly managed in Florida, there is great concern that climate change poses a significant long-term peril to the future health and sustainability of many ecosystems.  In fact, numerous scientific studies and previous assessments have noted that Monroe County’s marine and terrestrial habitats are among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts in the United States.

Built Environment

Monroe County’s built environment includes roads, buildings, and power supply structures.  A main goal of the recommendations in this section is to help individuals and business owners make the most informed decisions for their specific circumstances.  When properly informed, people may choose to elevate or relocate structures further away from vulnerable areas.  Alternatively, they may choose not to make any structural or relocation decisions based upon the anticipated vulnerability  of their land.

Avoid—limit development in particularly vulnerable areas, redirecting development to less vulnerable areas.

Protect— use hard or soft structures to protect structures and prevent flood waters from reaching community assets.  Hard structures could include seawalls or bulkheads, while soft structures could include geotextiles tubes and giant fabric sandbags designed to be replaced after storms.  This strategy does not protect wetlands and beaches in front of these structures which are at risk of disappearing as they are pinched out between the rising water levels and the fortifying structures behind them.

Accommodate—acknowledge long-term effects but implement short-term actions to make structures more resilient, such as elevating structures or their critical systems.

Retreat—relocate existing structures, people, and land uses away from high-risk flood areas.  It allows wetlands, beaches and natural coastal habitats to migrate to higher elevations naturally.

Health & Safety

Sustainable communities require healthy populations and resilient systems..  Resilience includes not only climate change resilience, but also disaster preparation and management.

Significant health problems are associated with climate change impacts, especially these:

  • Heat.   The impacts to human health from heat stress include exacerbated chronic conditions like respiratory and cardiovascular disease.  It is estimated that during the next 25 years, Florida will see as many as 1,840 additional deaths per year due to extreme heat, with the elderly and young children  most vulnerable.  Additionally, as temperature rises, labor productivity will decline, particularly in industries involving outdoor work (which is prevalent in the Keys).
  • Vector-borne diseases.   Existing and new vector borne diseases may become more prevalent.
  • Extreme weather events.  Stronger storms, more frequent floods, hurricanes, and tropical storms have numerous immediate- to long-term physical and emotional health impacts, including injury, drowning, death from structural collapses, infectious and chronic disease, displacement, and socioeconomic disruption.
  • Air quality. As ground-level pollutants increase, allergies and respiratory disease will also increase.
  • Waterborne diseases.  Pathogens and pollutants from runoff and flooding have the potential to enter water supplies, while Increased temperatures can increase pathogen growth in water supplies.  Under drought conditions, the pathogen concentration will proliferate, escalating the threat of waterborne disease.

Education, Arts & Community; Economy & Jobs; and Equity & Empowerment

The Education, Arts, & Community part of this focus area promotes an educated, cohesive, and socially connected community.  Monroe County established the Art In Public Places Committee to place art in public places.

The Economy & Jobs portion of this focus area promotes equitably shared prosperity and access to quality jobs.  Tourism is the largest industry in the Florida Keys and a major factor in the Monroe County economy. It accounts for roughly 60% of the local economy, 44% of the local income, and nearly 55% of the workforce in the County.

The Equity & Empowerment portion of this focus area promotes promote equity, inclusion, and access to opportunity for all residents.  Equity and empowerment are critical components of sustainability. Environmental degradation intensifies inequality in human development and vice versa.

Projects and Initiatives

Monroe County has already been incorporating sustainability, climate change, and sea level rise in its capital planning process. Here are projects completed by the county in recent years, as well as those proposed for FY 2016.

Projects Completed to Date

Capital Improvement Projects Completed in Recent Years

Project Completed Project Improvements Total Project Cost
Stock Island Fire/EMS Renovation and addition of the fire station facility on Stock Island. The fire station includes two (2) drive through apparatus bays and approximately 3,500 sq.ft. of office area and living quarters for the staff. $4,573,864
Conch Key Fire Station Renovation of the existing building and a new addition. 1,713 sq.ft. lower level garage, 1,820 sq.ft. second floor that includes an office, bath, lockers and sleeping rooms. Site Work included parking, drainage, landscaping, existing demolition and fuel tank. Garage heightened and generator relocated. $2,300,951
Cudjoe Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant Design and construction of the Cudjoe Regional Waste Water System. FKAA and the County have an Interlocal Agreement for this wastewater project. $47, 125, 082


Projects in the Pipeline

The county’s four-year capital plan of $328.7 million includes significant investment in the maintenance, repair, and improvement of capital assets, public safety, and physical environment.  Projects include  wastewater-related infrastructure, roads, bridges, canals, land acquisition, parks and beaches, fire stations and fire trucks, a new jail, and a new courthouse.

The following projects are proposed in the county’s Capital Improvements Program for FY 2016-2020.  The table includes suggestions for integrating sustainability and adaptation strategies into this and future capital planning and budgeting.

Recommendations for 5-Year Work Plan of Future Projects/Initiatives, Projected Benefits and Costs

Several projects included in the county’s 5-Year Work Plan are derived from the sea level rise modeling, vulnerability analysis, and GHG emissions inventory update conducted as part of GreenKeys!  These  projects, which constitute 64 of the 165 recommendations in GreenKeys!, fall into three categories:  1) facilities projects, 2) adaptation projects, and 3) other projects.

Facilities Projects

Since 2005, Monroe County has made significant progress in reducing GHG emissions and these efforts must continue. This will help the county meet future, more stringent, GHG reduction targets while also increasing the energy and water efficiency of county-owned facilities.  All of these efforts contribute to increasing the overall sustainability of the county.  In addition, energy efficiency and water conservation save costs.

The following facilities projects are recommended to ensure that the county continues making progress on increasing efficiency and reducing the carbon footprint of its facilities.

Adaptation Projects

GreenKeys! recommendations include adaptation projects based on identified vulnerabilities in the county.  The adaptation projects focus not only on individual structural improvements, but also include projects to ensure that natural habitats provide the maximum protection against climatic changes and rising seas.

Other Projects

Several other projects are recommended that do not specifically relate to county facilities or adaptation.  These projects are recommended to  improve sustainability, reduce GHG emissions through renewable energy, expand use of alternative modes of transportation, and to support green infrastructure, canopy conservation, and invasive species control efforts.

GreenKeys! Focus Area Recommendations and Priorities