UF Extension Service Launches New Statewide Energy-Conservation Campaign

Craig Miller and Pierce Jones display signs at a home in Gainesville's Madera development showing the economic and environmental benefits of new residences that are highly energy efficient
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GAINESVILLE, FLA. — As more consumers struggle with record-breaking energy costs and rapid urban growth puts a strain on Florida’s natural resources, the University of Florida’s extension service is launching a public awareness campaign promoting effective energy use and discouraging all forms of energy waste.

Initiated by UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the statewide campaign – aimed at the state’s current and future residents – kicks off April 22 during the annual Earth Day event.

“Everyone is concerned about soaring energy costs and water conservation, but the problem is more challenging here in Florida because our population continues to increase by more than 800 residents every day,” said Pierce Jones, director of UF’s Program for Resource Efficient Communities. “That kind of growth, along with the needs of our existing population for energy and water, is taking a tremendous toll on the state’s natural resources.”

A catalogue of fact sheets on energy efficiency, water conservation and environmental protection for homeowners is being developed by the UF extension service. The first set of documents is being released Tuesday on ceiling fans, air conditioning and duct systems. Additional publications on topics such as lighting, insulation, water heaters, irrigation, climate change and reducing the “carbon footprint” will be released over the next two months.

The publications will be posted under the “Sustainable Living” heading at extension’s SolutionsForYourLife.com Web site. Jones, who is working with the Florida Energy Office to develop the information campaign, said many residents come from states with different climates and ecosystems, and may not be aware of Florida’s fragile environment.

“Much of the damage to the state’s natural resources is due to a simple lack of awareness about our ecosystems and how homes interact with the environment,” he said. “There are many ways that people can save energy and water in their homes and landscapes, which will help not only the state’s natural resources, but their own economic situations as well.”

Jones said UF’s Program for Resource Efficiency Communities was established in 2004 to promote adoption of the best design, construction and management practices that measurably reduce energy and water consumption as well as environmental degradation in new residential developments.

After years as the nation’s fourth-largest state, Florida is poised to become the nation’s third largest in the next few years – after California and Texas – underscoring the urgent need for energy and water conservation, he said.

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