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About Leon County’s Office of Sustainability

Kate Lovett

Kate Lovett,

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1907 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32301

Established in 2009, the Leon County Office of Sustainability leads and coordinates the County’s sustainability efforts by implementing strategies that drive energy and water conservation, waste reduction, and responsible stewardship of our community’s resources. Since its inception, the Office of Sustainability has grown from a single full-time Sustainability Coordinator to a team of passionate employees committed to Leon County’s pursuit of a more sustainable future. Leon County believes in the creation of cooperative partnerships, both within the organization and the community at-large, in order to foster a supportive network for sustainability efforts – one in which every citizen can feel involved and inspired.

Waste Reduction

  • Leon County is currently pursuing a goal of a 75% recycling rate
  • Leon County properties have filled millions of reusable bottles, significantly reducing the use of plastic water bottles.
  • Staff created a Leon County Recycling video to help citizens and students understand the importance of recycling and how our local recycling system works.
  • Leon County continues to partner with schools to further integrate waste reduction initiatives through the donation of recycling bins and the creation of the Growing Green Recycling Lesson Plans for Grades 3-5.
  • The Hazardous Waste and Electronics Collection Center continues to offer a more convenient hazardous waste collection location at five locations.

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Energy Conservation & Efficiency

Leon County’s fist Climate Action Plan in 2008 made a greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal for County operations of 20% by 2017, a goal which was achieved two years early in 2015. The Integrated Sustainability Action Plan reflects the County’s continued commitment to climate action with an updated greenhouse gas emissions goal of an additional 30% reduction by 2030. With this goal in mind, Leon County has achieved significant progress in its energy reduction initiatives, such as:

  • Increasing efforts to continue the County’s steady reduction of equivalent CO2 (ECO2) emissions from utility usage and reduce ECO2 emissions from the County fleet
  • Since 2008, Leon County has saved millions of dollars in utility costs though efficiency renovations on County buildings. In order to maintain and improve these efforts, the County uses ever-evolving utility management systems to track energy efficiency upgrades and conservation efforts within internal operations.
  • The Leon County Building Sustainability Policy requires that all new construction and major renovation projects aspire to LEED Gold equivalence but achieve no less than LEED Silver. Minor renovations and repairs utilize the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Buildings, as set forth by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).
  • The continued operation of the Cooperative Extension Building as a Net-Zero Energy building retrofitted with solar and geothermal energy systems, and Leon County-patented rain collection cisterns recycled from fuel storage tanks
  • The completion of the Energy Savings Company (ESCO) project in 2022, which resulted in an investment of over $17 million to make energy efficient upgrades in County facilities
  • Continue to expand solar PV arrays with the combined solar energy production on County buildings to over 180 kW.
  • Achieving LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification for three County buildings: the Eastside Branch Library, Public Safety Complex, and the EMS Logistics Building.
  • The Office of Resource Stewardship continues to offset the carbon impact of employee travel through a variety of community-oriented carbon reduction initiatives
  • Low-flow toilets and faucets have been installed in a majority of County buildings, saving thousands of gallons of water a year.

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  • Leon County adopted a EV-ready ordinance to facilitate and encourage the use of electric vehicles and to expedite the establishment of a convenient, cost-effective electric vehicle infrastructure that will also accommodate future technology advancements
  • Leon County adopted a Green Fleet Policy in order to maintain a fleet that is as fuel-efficient, cost efficient, and environmentally friendly as possible.
  • Free-to-use electric vehicle charging stations have been installed in various high-traffic areas to encourage citizens and employees to transition to electric vehicles. Find an EV charger near you with our Green Map!
  • Leon County continues to expand alternative fuel vehicles. Fleet obtained an upgraded fueling software in 2020 with the goal of getting more accurate fuel consumption and efficiency data, which has been achieved and exceeded.

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Internal Employee Education

Leon County utilizes internal sustainability programming to build sustainable workplace culture, integrate sustainability initiatives in everyday county operations, and equip Leon County employees to lead by example in their community.

  • A number of internal sustainability programs and initiatives continue to take root thanks to collaboration between the Office of Sustainability and other County Offices, such as:
  • Hosting Workplace Sustainability Workshops for all Leon County departments. This initiative was awarded a National Achievement Award in 2017 by the National Association of Counties in the county resiliency category.
  • The administration of a Green Driving Education Program began in 2022 for employees that regularly drive county vehicles. The program includes a no-idling policy, fuel-conserving driving tactics, and defensive driving education.
  • The Green Team, an interdepartmental sustainability task force comprised of representatives from each Leon County work area. The team meets every other month to discuss various ongoing internal sustainability initiatives and explore new innovations for existing and future programs.
  • The integration of sustainability principles and initiatives in New Employee Orientation in collaboration with the Leon County Human Resources Department
  • Sustainable purchasing guidelines for County internal meetings and events were developed in 2018 to reduce the use of single-use disposable items.

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Litter & Illegal Dumping Abatement / Beautification Initiatives

Sustainability staff continues to host a variety of events that supports the County’s efforts for litter reduction and beautification initiatives:

  • Shoreline cleanups at least once every year promote community involvement in sustainability efforts and provide education about our local waterways.
  • Beautification Grants reimburse community groups for beautification, litter reduction, or place‐making projects. Past grants were used for neighborhood erosion control and the creation of a highway trash pick-up team.
  • Buy-One-Get-One Free Native Plant Sale – to encourage the use of native plant species in residential areas, Leon County has partnered with Native Nurseries since 2017 to sponsor a BOGO deal on all native plants. This event promotes the use of our native plant species in alignment with Florida Friendly Landscaping principles and bolsters economic development of many businesses, including local nurseries and growers.
  • The urban agriculture ordinance gives citizens the opportunity to establish and maintain community gardens to promote healthy and sustainable access to food systems.
  • Sustainability staff continues to work with the Urban Forester and Public Works staff to amplify the County’s Adopt-A-Tree program by providing citizens with a variety of native trees that will thrive in an array of growing conditions.

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Community Partnerships/Public Outreach

  • The Community Garden Grant Program has awarded over 65 grants to support schools, faith-based groups, and other important community organizations.
  • In 2012, Leon County partnered with Sustainable Tallahassee to support the Community Carbon Fund (CCF). Contributions to the CCF are used for energy-saving retrofits to the facilities of local non-profit organizations that serve low-income, disadvantaged, or disenfranchised populations.
  • To make a broader and lasting impact on sustainability education, the Office of Sustainability worked with Leon County Schools to develop Growing Green Education: recycling and sustainability lesson plans for Leon County teachers in K-5 classrooms.
  • The Seed Library Program provides citizens with access to a variety of seeds that grow well in our climate in addition to gardening expertise and demonstrations from our local Leon County IFAS Extension Office
  • Leon County created an interactive Green Map. Sustainability staff continues to expand the Green Map, which includes community gardens, farmers’ markets, regional farms, public recycling bins, local bike routes, and more.
  • Eight of the largest organizations in Leon County have pledged to collectively tackle some of the community's biggest sustainability topics like waste, energy, and transportation with the creation of the Capital Area Sustainability Compact. The Compact’s mission is to establish a platform where members can share information, identify collaboration opportunities, and find solutions for shared sustainability challenges.
  • Leon County has partnered with FSU in their Sustainability Fellows program to assist students as they address community concerns through project work that promotes sustainable solutions.
  • Since 2008, Leon County has continued to host Sustainable Community Summits featuring various themes:
    • Climate Action (2008), Sustainable Communities (2010 & 2012), Sustainable Food (2015), Sustainable Hospitality Industry (2017), Sustainable Outdoor Recreation (2017), and Sustainability in Action (2021).

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Featured Video

2023 Annual Report Video 4:12
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