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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Green Business Practices

Mary Campbell, Urban Sustainability Agent, Pinellas County Extension

Becoming a more environmentally- friendly business is a choice that can reap big rewards. Green Business practices can help save money, attract customers, enhance your reputation and help make a business more efficient. A company policy of environmental stewardship or mission that includes sustainable practices will help create the vision. There are three main areas where a business can become more green and sustainable:
Improve energy efficiency and water conservation
Changes in work practices
Recycling and waste reduction
Improve Energy Efficiency and Water conservation
There are simple ways to reduce energy and water use and save money at the same time. An energy audit can be done by Progress Energy to review where there may be easy impacts to reduce energy use, as well as long-term investments for the future.

Implement staff guidelines for turning off computers, peripherals, as well as office and meeting room lights. Water conservation in outdoor landscapes can save thousands of gallons of water each year (see Florida Yards and Neighborhoods ).

Changes in Work Practices
To become a green business, employees need to be a part of the practice changes that will make it successful. Creating a green committee that promotes these new practices will be a good start, as well as educational programs for staff. Discussing green purchasing practices, energy conservation, double- sided copying, green meetings , reduction of paper use through electronic sharing, telecommuting and other innovative sustainable practices will help the team get started. Start small and build on these practice changes gradually until they become habits. Develop a staff pledge program and rewards around the new practices (take the Check Your Green Commitment At Work Pledge to get started).

Recycling and Waste Reduction
Reducing waste in an office can make a positive impact on the bottom line as well as reduce your carbon footprint. Get a waste assessment to determine strategies and options from Pinellas County Utilities Solid Waste.

Develop an Action Plan
1. Evaluate environmental programs that fit well with your vision and mission.
2. Communicate your environmental initiatives to customers and staff.
3. Report successes and get feedback.
Ten Steps to Green Business Practices

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Keeping Your Family Healthy Room by Room

Vestina F. Crayton, Pinellas County Extension Specialist, Urban Sustainability.

Your family’s health is a top priority for most. One way to keep your family healthy is by understanding and managing the sources that affect their indoor air quality. Since the average person spends approximately 90% of their time indoors, it is important to take a closer look at the areas or items that may compromise the quality of your indoor air environment. Depending on the level of exposure to certain indoor air pollutants, acute or chronic health concerns can occur that may range from mild eye irritation to death. Research has shown that air pollutants indoors can be greater than those found outdoors.

This chart highlights some of the common indoor air pollutants, associated health effects and control measures (reactions vary from person to person)

Indoor Air PollutantHealth ImpactsControl Measures
MoldSneezing, Coughing, AsthmaKeep house cool, dry and clean
Carbon MonoxideSymptoms similar to flu: nausea dizziness; brain damageInstall a CO alarm
LeadSlows physical, behavioral, and learning developmentIf your house was built in 1978 or earlier have it tested by a professional
Radon Gas Lung CancerHave house tested Call 1-800-SOS-Radon
AsbestosHigh levels can cause lung problems Consult a professional for testing, repair and removal
Tobacco SmokingSecond hand smoke increase the risk of disease and death in children and non-smokersEliminate or reduce exposure
FormaldehydeWatery, burning eyes, breathing problemsEliminate or reduce exposure to pressed-wood products
Volatile Organic Compounds Dizziness nausea; neurological and reproductive disordersFollow the instructions on proper use and store appropriately
PesticidesDizziness nausea; neurological and reproductive disordersFollow the instructions on proper use and store appropriately

Take a tour through the US Environmental Protection Agency virtual home to learn about some of the most common sources of indoor air pollutants.

If you would like to test the levels of indoor air pollutants in your home, contact your local health department.

For more in-depth information about how to minimize indoor air toxins to create a healthier indoor environment, Pinellas County Extension will be offering a Healthy, Home, Healthy Family seminar September 12, 2009. Please check back for more details and to register at Pinellas County Extension.


Hyun-Jeong Lee, Audrey Norman, “My Florida Home Book 2.2: Keeping Your Home Healthy”FCS3294

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Join us for a Webinar on June 11

This is an introductory program on the basic facts about climate change. Scientists now show evidence of ongoing impacts such as sea level rise, warming of the oceans and air, and changes to our environment. Learn about impacts to Florida and our coastal regions.

Title:  The Basics of Climate Change

Date:  Thursday, June 11, 2009

Time:  12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EDT 

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar. 

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server,

Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4 (Tiger®) or newer 

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

Monday, June 1, 2009

Marine Agent Offers Information for Pinellas County Residents

Mary Campbell, Pinellas County Extension Director, Urban Sustainability Agent

As summer provides more opportunities to enjoy our beaches and waterways, Extension has valuable information available to residents to promote safe and environmentally-friendly ways to enjoy the marine environment.

A big part of the quality of life we enjoy is through our water-related activities that are provided by the 588 miles of coastline around Pinellas County.  Boating, swimming, bird watching, fishing and enjoying the beach are all a part of the recreational opportunities available. 

Through the Sea Grant Marine Extension program, information is available on a variety of topics to help us protect our marine environment and stay up to date on various programs and policies related to protecting this resource.

Pinellas County Extension utilizes the expertise of the Marine Agent located in Manatee County, our neighbor to the south. John Stevely is the Sea Grant Marine Agent in Manatee County and he is available to provide the latest information on marine issues. Access to his newsletter, the Marine Scene, is now available from the Pinellas County Extension website and his webpage is available to provide a variety of resources. 

Florida Sea Grant uses research, education and extension to create a sustainable coastal economy and environment.

Whether you are an avid fisherman or enjoy kayaking, Sea Grant has information that supports our marine resources and helps to make sure this resource is around for future generations to enjoy.

Email Mr. Stevely using the link above or visit Manatee County Extension to learn more.