Unpacking Florida’s Climate Change Vulnerability
The peninsula of Southern Florida is geographically poised to benefit greatly from legislation related to climate change and lowering carbon emissions. However, Florida currently ranks just above the middle (24th) when it comes to energy efficiency. As the third most populated state in the U.S., many Floridians are calling for lawmakers in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., to step up and increase their efforts to reduce carbon emissions, reduce the risks from sea-level rise, and the harmful effects of fossil fuels on the environment. However, PACE financing can help many property owners make energy-efficient home improvements now.
Florida’s Rising Temperatures
The Sunshine State has been known for high temperatures, but now the heat is going to be sticking around for longer, claim experts. According to the findings of a study released earlier this year by the Union of Concerned Scientists, by 2050, the heat index can be expected to remain at 105ºF for periods of up to four months a year throughout the Tampa Bay area. That kind of extended heat can affect the health of Floridians as well as the tourism economy of high traffic areas like Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach.
Weathering Storms and Sea Level Changes
According to the study group Four Twenty Seven, Florida’s infrastructure remains vulnerable to damage from tropical storms and rising sea-level change. Though the state has learned from each major tropical storm event, the frequency of these storms does pose a financial risk to Florida’s economy:
“Corporate and real asset investments can be financially impacted by climate-driven weather events and chronic stresses, even with strong internal risk management systems in place, as climate events can affect the broader community and disrupt local infrastructure,” stated Four Twenty Seven.
In response to this, many local community action groups have emerged, including The Invading Sea. This collaboration brings together the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post, and WLRN Public Media with aims to raise awareness about sea-level rise and encourage action in South Florida.
A Call to Action
Some Florida officials are calling for action when it comes to increasing Florida’s energy efficiency. For example, the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Nicole “Nikki” Fried, has announced a legislative package to address many of the energy-related issues affecting all income levels of property owners throughout the state. Nikki wants to hold Florida’s utility companies accountable for failing to meet the efficiency standards of the Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act (FEECA) and start reducing energy needs throughout the state.
Mark Samuelian, Miami Beach Commissioner and Chair of the Sustainability & Resiliency Committee, believes that by educating and incentivizing residents from utility programs to increase the efficiency of their homes, Florida can take a pro-active approach and lower their fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions. Energy efficiency upgrades like replacing old water heaters with more efficient equipment, repairing or replacing air conditioners, and increasing overall home performance with upgraded insulation and air sealing can go a long way in decreasing energy demand and energy waste.
For State Representative Shevrin Jones, he is calling for urgent action in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., to address the climate crisis and for everyone to start transitioning towards a clean energy economy, which includes increasing energy efficiency standards and reducing carbon emissions.
Reduce Your Energy Demand with PACE
Fortunately, property owners throughout Florida don’t have to wait for lawmakers to take action to do their part. For property owners looking to upgrade their own home’s energy efficiency, PACE financing can help many improve their homes without the burden of paying upfront costs. With PACE financing, property owners can choose from a list of approved home improvement projects and spread the cost of one or multiple home improvements over long term payments. These payments are then paid back as a line item on the property taxes at a fixed interest rate. Property owners can even make prepayments on the PACE assessment if they wish.