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Florida Energy and Climate Commission Grant

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By Tom Deverin

The City of Cedar Key received the Florida Energy and Climate Commission Grant with a goal of increasing energy efficiency for our city facilities, businesses and residents. An important part of the grant is the Educational Outreach Program which the City asked the Energy Advisory Panel (EAP) to develop and implement. Some parts of this educational program are required by the grant but it was left to the EAP to devise programs that fulfill the grant’s requirements. So the following is what we have come up with.
It was required that energy efficiency awareness be incorporated into the existing curriculum at our school. To achieve this goal, the City is purchasing 225 copies of a book titled “Why Should I Bother about the Planet?”, published by the Educational Development Corporation (EDC). The grant funds utilized to purchase these books qualified the city to receive a 50-percent matching grant from the EDC, saving over $500 and putting more books into the hands of our children. The book will be used for all grade levels to teach energy awareness and the reasons why energy conservation is important to us all. Copies of the book will be retained by the school so that this resource can be utilized again and again.
The school will also be taking advantage of a short course on alternative energy and conservation that is provided by the Florida Solar Power Institute. This program, which lends our school books, videos, scientific equipment and lesson plans for a period of two weeks, gives students hands-on experience with alternative energies and conservation practices. This program will be taught in grades K through 12.
Also required by the grant, all public restrooms will have laminated signage that educate and encourage people to conserve water and energy. The laminate includes a photo of white pelicans and a concise and clear message about conservation.
A mailing is to be sent to all residents that includes two tri-folds created by the EAP titled “Saving Water = Saving Money and Saving Electricity = Saving Money”. There is also an updated laminated refrigerator magnet that explains what can and cannot be recycled along with the pickup schedule. The old green laminates are now out-dated. Also included will be a tri-fold explaining the recycling program for anyone that missed the educational outreach that has been going on for the last three years.
The City is required to provide a workshop on energy efficiency to city employees and Cedar Key business owners and managers.  Residents are more than welcome to attend. The approach of this brief meeting, which is May 9 at 9 a.m. at the Community Center, is to educate our businesses about energy conservation and the benefits it brings to their business. The businesses that have fully implemented recycling will receive the Cedar Key Environmental Award, a plaque that thanks them for their efforts and upon placement in their business, will inform their customers that they do the right thing in regards to waste reduction and recycling. The businesses will also be provided with information and assets that will help to reduce energy usage and increase recycling. An example would be the laminated refrigerator magnets to be given to lodging establishments which have a welcoming statement and an explanation of what can be recycled.
The above programs were designed to address all segments of our island’s population –  our school, residents, businesses and visitors. With the information provided, everyone will have the tools that they need to reduce their electric and water usage and to increase recycling. All of these programs will be implemented within the next month.
Most importantly, realize that conservation starts with you.