How did you a become a green champion of sustainability?
I often use this adage: “Success occurs when Opportunity meets Preparation”. Our success in Atlantic Beach has been the product of teamwork, dedicated people, good timing, perseverance, and passion. When the City Commission first established environmental stewardship/leadership as its No. 1 priority in 2019, it’s not like we began championing sustainability in a vacuum. Rather, we were helping align synergies with a keen existing focus on sustainability in our community.
Specifically, many government, public, and nonprofit-sector organizations have been driving the sustainability bus. Locally, this included the City’s Planning and Community Development Department, the City’s Environmental Stewardship Committee (ESC), the North Florida Green Chamber of Commerce (NFGCC), Beaches Go Green, the University of North Florida Environmental Center and being named a LEED Silver City by the U.S. Green Building Council.
As Mayor in my City, I’m a small piece of the sustainability leadership puzzle, and I consider Atlantic Beach to be an incubator right now for creativity and great ideas. With the City Commission’s enthusiastic support, the public and nonprofit sector are looking closely at Atlantic Beach-specific issues and taking steps to protect the earth while meeting the needs of future generations. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this initiative!
Being a coastal city, what changes are being felt due to the progressing global warming process?
In Atlantic Beach, one of our major efforts has been to focus on data and the future impacts of sea level rise. This inspired the City to apply for a grant and undertake a coastal vulnerability assessment. We learned that Mayport tidal records indicate that the mean sea level has risen almost 10 inches since 1930 and that the current rate of change is about 1-inch per decade – and increasing. Predictions by NOAA and other agencies indicate that Atlantic Beach needs to plan for a potential increase in sea levels of about 1 foot in the next 25 years and 2.7 feet in the next 50 years.
Areas of Atlantic Beach already suffer from routine nuisance or “sunny day” flooding during spring tides and normal weather conditions. This problem is being exacerbated by rising sea levels, and over the next 50 years we expect a much larger area of the city to be subject to nuisance flooding. The results of future flood map modeling were used to identify critical city facilities such as potable water wells and sewage lift stations, roadways, homes, and businesses that may have an increased flood risk in the future.
The City is building on its recently completed coastal vulnerability assessment results by using another grant to develop a corresponding adaptation plan. We will use this information to develop a long-term mitigation strategy.
Does Atlantic Beach have a sustainability or green strategy? What are some of the programs?
Some of our City’s guiding documents pertaining to sustainability and environmental leadership are the ordinance establishing the Environmental Stewardship Committee (ESC); the City’s tree-protection code; and our coastal vulnerability assessment report. In the near future, we will add a part-time Resiliency Officer and, when completed, the coastal adaptation plan to our sustainability tool kit.
Ordinance establishing the Environmental Stewardship Committee (ESC). The ESC studies and makes recommendation to the City Commission and City staff with respect to the City’s maritime forest; parks and open spaces; beautification of public and private spaces; and environmental stewardship.
Coastal Vulnerability Assessment. By better understanding the risk, the City can effectively identify areas to focus on and make informed decisions moving forward. Protecting the beach, dunes, marshlands and wetlands is critical in defending the Atlantic Beach from hurricanes, erosion and flooding.
Resiliency Officer. In the near future, the City plans to repurpose a position within our Planning Department to include the duties of Resiliency Officer.
Coastal Adaptation Plan. When completed, soon will be added to the City’s environmental leadership toolkit, as will an internal facility sustainability policy the City is developing.
How are you engaging your residents and staff in your sustainability efforts?
Engaging residents starts with our Environmental Stewardship Committee (ESC), a dedicated group of citizen volunteers who serve as a motivating and coordinating body to encourage public and private participation in environmental stewardship. The ESC provides a direct avenue for citizens to share ideas, carry out projects, and potentially influence policies and practices. The committee also works with City staff on Arbor Day observances and tree plantings, and to educate property owners, developers, buildings, and landscapers about environmental and sustainability issues.
Also, by identifying environmental leadership as its No. 1 priority for two consecutive years, and publishing the priorities on its various communications platforms, the City Commission sends a strong message to our residents that sustainability should and will factor in much of its policy-making.
In your view, what role does sustainability play in local government?
Local government has a substantial role in sustainability leadership by engaging citizens, enhancing technical expertise (i.e. the LEED for Cities roadmap), mobilizing financial resources, and developing managerial competency for sustainability. By recognizing and addressing environmental, economic, social and governance issues in strategic planning, our City is squarely focused in that direction, from my vantage point.
Collectively, what have we done? Here’s a partial scorecard of how the City of Atlantic Beach has been a green champion of sustainability.
Coastal vulnerability assessment completed
Coastal adaptation planning under way
Beaches to Marsh Parks master plan initiated
Public art, façade and landscape grant program initiated
Tree City USA designation reinstated
Hundreds of trees planted in rights of way
Heritage trees designated on private properties and at city parks
Community Arbor Day celebrations established
Recycling bins placed at beach accesses and in parks
Cigarette Butt Boxes at beach accesses
Internationally recognized beach litter basket started
Balloon Release Ordinance
Outreach on 4 “Rs”: Refuse, Reduce, Re-use, Recycle
Home Rule advocate to regulate single use plastic and smoking in public parks
City Partnership with Green Market
How can businesses get involved and become more sustainable or green?
I am pretty proud that the City of Atlantic Beach was the first city to join the North Florida Green Chamber of Commerce (NFGCC)! We have and will continue to support their efforts in our community. To this end, we have tremendous opportunities for partnerships in our community – and in our world.
Greening workplaces and businesses is not only the right thing to do for global health, but green practices have strong linkages to employee well-being, customer loyalty, and community connectivity. Some business operators think that going green is too difficult or too expensive. But going green at its essence is about reducing waste and being conscious of your business’s impact on nature. Purchasing fewer office materials, reducing energy bills, and reducing the stream of single-use plastics are just the tipping point of building a green budget, caring for the planet, and – in some cases – alleviating the stress of unneeded extra costs.
Atlantic Beach business operators who want tips on becoming sustainable are encouraged to contact the City at firstname.lastname@example.org or (904) 247-5804.
Medcom Benefit Solutions is a leading employee benefits administrator, well-known for specializing in exceptional service, offering a variety of products that are designed to help employers meet the challenges of a rapidly changing workforce.
“Medcom Benefit Solutions is grateful to continue operations at the same capacity during the pandemic. We were able to swiftly transition to remote work in a matter of weeks for the safety of our employees. We continue to thank our loyal clients for being there for us during this crisis, so we can continue to be there for them,” said Michael Bracken, President of Medcom Benefit Solutions.
With a professional staff of specialists, Medcom offers COBRA and Premium Billing Administration, CDHP Administration: Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings Accounts, Health Reimbursement Arrangements and Commuter Benefits, in addition to, Health Care Reform products including Affordable Care Act Reporting, Full-Time Benefit Eligibility Tracking, and Penalty Appeal Support, HIPAA Privacy and Security Training, HIPAA Privacy Policies, and Health & Welfare Compliance and consulting services for ERISA and Health Care Reform compliance.
As a recent member of the North Florida Green Chamber of Commerce (NFGCC), Medcom is committed to continuing to grow as a more environmentally conscious business.
Medcom is working to implement more green practices and learn, as a company, what they can each do individually to help. They have partnered with Earth Charter International to continue to foster sustainability in all different settings. Medcom has cultivated a workplace that puts the four Earth Charter Pillars at the forefront: Respect and Care for the Community of Life, Ecological Integrity, Social and Economic Justice, and Democracy, Nonviolence and Peace.
The company has created internal committees centered around them. The ways Medcom works to serve clients is changing and evolving.
“It is no longer just our clients; now, it’s our clients, our neighborhood, and our planet. We are excited and honored to be a part of an organization such as the NFGCC and can’t wait to put in the work,” added Bracken.
The North Florida Green Chamber of Commerce (NFGCC) knows that business can achieve economic success while being socially responsible and protecting the environment. We support and recognize businesses that champion these efforts and we advocate for sound policies that further these values.
In addition to advocacy NFGCC offers:
Access to education, toolkits, resources and sustainable products & services
Recognition of sustainability efforts and leadership
Advocacy of business-friendly policies and legislation to further our mission
Here in North Florida, we host live and online member events, focusing our advocacy on improving advantages for businesses and consumers in Nassau, Duval, Saint Johns, Flagler, Baker, Clay, Putnam, Union, Bradford and Alachua counties.
Supporting the North Florida Green Chamber is about keeping the balance between social, economic, and environmental concerns in corporate decision-making; taking care of the natural resources the company uses, recompensing the communities in which companies work and promoting long-term value-creation for shareholders.
A core part of the Green Chamber’s mission is backing initiatives to provide our members with simple, affordable and convenient access to the tools they need to succeed in their business while respecting people and protecting our planet. This includes affordable access to sustainable products and services, innovative solutions to address critical issues currently facing our region and business-friendly regulation.
We seek to advance legislation that encourages and incentivizes green economic priorities and to level the playing field through the review of current regulations.
GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.
By 2022, we are expected to have approximately 8 Billion people on our planet. Our Global Climate Pledge is seeking to engage 25% of that population in the next 2 years.
We ask for those who are leading a heavy carbon lifestyle to start making changes, but also want to include those who are most at risk to help us in building a brighter future for all!
We recognize the progress our national governments and international organizations (like the UN) are making, but we know there is an urgent need to engage citizens and additional NGO’s, Businesses, Governments, etc. in every country to assure we hold global warming well below 2℃ to benefit our health, security and prosperity.
This is the time we can come together to decrease our global emissions exponentially.
The U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce, Climate Counts and Rotary Club of Newport Beach/Global Service Rotary Club are the first few groups to join forces in engaging 2 Billion people in the next 2 years to start taking climate action.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Biomimicry is the process of learning from nature to find solutions to problems.
The world around us is changing rapidly, with the emergence of new diseases, new technologies, and new ways of working, companies need to find ways to respond and grow in rapidly changing times.
The North Florida Green Chamber of Commerce (NFGCC) is presenting Biomimicry 101 – Learning from Nature to Respond to a Changing World on Tuesday, April 28 @ 2 p.m.
Biomimicry is an emerging discipline that seeks to emulate nature’s strategies and principles to create sustainable solutions to human challenges.
Much like today’s companies, nature must find ways to quickly solve problems and respond to a changing environment or perish. Learn how biomimicry can help companies, organizations and individuals respond to our changing world.
Host Jessica Tittl is an experienced and passionate chemist and microbiologist, dedicated to the development of breakthrough technologies and solutions to move the needle in human and environmental health.
By the end of the Webinar, attendees will learn:
The basic concepts of biomimicry
Examples of biomimicry in action in organizational structure, technology, and healthcare
The basic biomimicry processes
How biomimicry can be applied to your business
Tittl has over six years of product development and patent law experience, applying biomimicry and future forecasting to the development and protection of new technology.
Tittl works as a biological scientist in the Soil and Water Sciences Department at the University of Florida, where she researches coral disease. Jessica owns a consulting firm, BiomeFuture, that helps companies apply biomimicry and future forecasting principles to new technology and system design.
She is also the founder and executive director of nonprofit Discoverbiome, dedicated to educating the public on climate science and sustainability. Tittl resides in Gainesville, where she has built and lives in a tiny house on a sustainable farm!
Biomimicry 101 – Learning from Nature to Respond to a Changing World is being sponsored by Breaking Ground Contracting and the Florida Green Building Coalition. It’s a powerful philosophy being used by businesses to tackle some of the sustainability challenges of products and production processes.
Many of our amazing members have adjusted their way of doing business to accommodate people during this time. We will be posting “Innovations in the Green Marketplace” weekly to show how you can support our members right now. View the Green Marketplace online to search through all our vendors!
Note: Please disable Pop-Up blocker to access links.
Hey NFGCC members- if you are changing your business technique to work with these social distancing times and want to be listed next week, please reach out to us at email@example.com and submit a photo or logo with copy (200 words max) and a link. DEADLINE THURSDAY @ 5 p.m.
An award-winning short animated film was produced by Animaskin for the United Nations to support sustainable development. Sustainable business development is about keeping the balance between social, economic, and environmental concerns in corporate decision-making; taking care of the natural resources the company uses, recompensing the communities in which companies work and promoting long-term value-creation for shareholders.
The City of Jacksonville COVID-19 Response Business Community Loan Program is designed to provide low-cost loans with less stringent underwriting requirements and flexible repayment terms to Duval County small businesses hurt from the current pandemic response.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is launching the Save Small Business Fund. Funded by contributions from corporate and philanthropic partners, the Foundation will provide $5,000 supplemental grants to small employers in economically vulnerable communities.
The North Florida Green Chamber of Commerce (NFGCC) has announced its board of directors for 2020.
NFGCC is a regional networking organization for all sizes of businesses and community organizations including non-profits that emphasize green and sustainable business practices.
Mary Tappouni, president of Breaking Ground Contracting, is chairman. Vice chair Marc Hudson is the Land Protection Director at North Florida Land Trust. Kelly Karstaedt, Executive Director of the Jacksonville Justice Association, is secretary. Jessica Handley, Tax Manager at BDO, is treasurer.
Other board members include Tracy Alloway, PhD, an award-winning psychologist, professor, author and TEDx speaker; Craig Barzso, co-founder of Altways, a St. Augustine based business helping people go solar and founder and CEO of LifeWare TEK, developer of Internet-based sales, marketing and supply chain systems for major brands and Paul Sifton, part owner of 927 Events and partner of Bee Friends Farm.
These members bring a diverse background in business, non-profit and government service to the North Florida Green Chamber Board of Directors.
In addition to promoting the economic success of NFGCC members using environmental, socially responsible and sustainable practices, the North Florida chapter has ongoing networking and educational events, job fairs, newsletter as well as sponsorship opportunities, discounts and a mentoring program.
A Green Tie Affair was held in January at 927 Events, in downtown Jacksonville. The North Florida Green Chamber was celebrating its one year anniversary and announced the official launch of the Green Marketplace. (Photos by Anita Levy)