Key Biscayne has done a good job “going green,” but the Village’s expert on the issue says there are plenty more exciting developments that could come in the future.
Derek Duzoglou updated the Village Council January 9 on implementation of the Sustainability Plan and which environmental issues he hopes to tackle in the year ahead.
Duzoglou’s firm, D Squared Engineering, was retained last fall as the Village’s sustainability consultant. Duzoglou, a longtime Key resident, chaired the Green Committee that developed the Sustainability Plan five years ago.
On the 9th, he told the Council that because the plan is five years old, it could require updates – a question Council members had raised when Duzoglou came onboard as a consultant.
“The idea is to have the checklist items as a living document,” he said, adding he will seek input from Council members, the business community and residents to help evolve the plan. “We want the feedback from the community to update this document to make it the most effective.”
Duzoglou noted the Village has already done a lot in terms of sustainability, with initiatives like the Freebee ride share program, LimeBike dockless bike sharing initiative, timers on irrigation systems, adding hybrid vehicles to its fleet, etc.
While all of that is good news, he looks forward to doing more on several fronts.
One initiative could involve installing solar panels on government buildings. If all available roof space is covered with panels, Duzoglou said, it would cost $1 million – however, some grant money could be available, and the Village would save $70,000 per year on its power bills. He added the projects could be done in phases, and promised to provide additional information at an upcoming meeting.
Duzoglou noted the project could help with “peak shaving,” i.e. storing solar energy and using it to cover excess demand at peak times, thereby lowering costs.
Duzoglou also described the concept of placing panels on the roofs of Freebee vehicles. “While the Freebees are waiting to pick up clients, they can be recharging their batteries,” he said.
A second idea Duzoglou hopes to work on is a waste-to-energy program using a process that D Squared developed. He noted the Village generates an amazing 50 tons of waste a day, and instead of spending money to ship it off the island to landfills, it could be repurposed into power to meet a large percentage of the island’s needs.
He cited numerous advantages: saving space in South Florida landfills that are just five years away from being over capacity, reducing the Village’s carbon footprint by not hauling waste 17 miles off the island, and, of course, adding a source of power.
A third initiative would come at little cost to the Village. Duzoglou described an idea for “Walk it Wednesdays,” in which residents would be encouraged to bike, walk or take golf carts to school, work, activities, etc. He said if just a percentage of the island’s commuters take part, they could remove half a million pounds of carbon dioxide from the air on a weekly basis.
Finally, Duzoglou will look into rainwater harvesting systems. He noted 3.5 million gallons of rain fall on local playing fields on the Village Green each year, and that water could be collected and used for irrigation, flushing toilets and other non-potable purposes.
He noted the fields already have drainage systems beneath the turf, so all the Village would need to do is connect the pipes to cisterns and then decide how to use the water. “It’s a simple fix,” he said. “Any installation of tanks would not interrupt what’s already been done.”
Duzoglou said he’ll make regular reports to the Council to update them on various sustainability initiatives and the possibility of grant money for some of the project.