Ask Extension

Recent Articles


Thursday, October 29, 2009

UF Extension Service Launches New Statewide Energy-Conservation Campaign

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's new public awareness campaign promotes the effective use of energy and discourages all forms of energy waste.

Initiated by UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), the statewide campaign--aimed at the state’s current and future residents--kicked off April 22, 2008, 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 eight hundred 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."
The UF Extension service is developing a catalogue of fact sheets on energy efficiency, water conservation, and environmental protection for homeowners. The first set of documents in the "Energy Efficient Homes" series--Air Conditioning, Ceiling Fans, and The Duct System--were released on April 22, 2008.

Additional publications on topics such as lighting, insulation, water heaters, irrigation, climate change, and reducing the "carbon footprint" will be released by UF Extension over the next two months. For more information about energy efficiency, conservation, and sustainability, see the Sustainable Living section of

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 they 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 state--after California and Texas--sometime in the next few years, underscoring the urgent need for energy and water conservation now, he said.

Adapted from:
UF Extension Service launches new statewide energy-conservation campaign, UF/IFAS News (4/2008).

Written by:
Chuck Woods, (352) 392-0400,

Pierce Jones, (352) 392-8074,

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Green Jobs

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

What exactly is a ‘green’ job? There has been much debate about this question. Workforce Florida, Inc. defines a green job as ‘” a green job increases the conservation and sustainability of natural resources for the benefit of Floridians. This includes jobs that reduce energy usage or lower carbon emissions, and protect Florida’s natural resources. Green jobs should provide worker-friendly conditions, pay sustainable wages and offer opportunities for continued skill training and career growth.”

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was created and nearly 800 billion dollars were allocated to help reenergize the economy and to support the need for our nation to become more sustainable.

Employers are diligently working to secure funds from these stimulus dollars to create jobs as well as design and implement training programs that will develop and enhance the skills of existing employees in targeted industries such as energy efficiency and renewable energy.

To learn more about the ‘green’ job industry, such as where are the stimulus dollars going, what jobs are being created, what training is required, and what the experts are saying about the employment forecast for this industry, register for the “Green Jobs” Webinar on Thursday, October 22, from 12:15 pm – 12:45 pm.

Monday, October 19, 2009

USGBC Florida Gulfcoast Chapter Green Living Expo

Join us on October 24th for the US Green Building Coalition's Green Living Expo.
Presented by the USGBC, St. Petersburg College, Progress Energy and the Science Center of Pinellas, this Expo will feature speakers on topics related to living green.

This event will be held at the Science Center of Pinellas, located at 7701 22nd Avenue North, St. Petersburg , FL 33710 Phone: (727) 384-0027 (click here for map) from 10:00 - 3:00

Throughout the day, various educational sessions will be held. These 30-minute mini-classes will provide information from local experts on a variety of topics. Here is the program:

Session StartTopicPresenter
10:00Florida’s Future; Climate Change and Coastal CommunitiesMary Campbell UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension
10:30Home Energy Savings and Financial IncentivesJames Stevenson UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension
11:00It’s Not Just About the EnvironmentVestina F. Crayton UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension
11:00 Energy EfficiencySteve Masi Progress Energy
11:30Greening your home’s interior Darren Brinkly Real Building
11:30Rain HarvestingWilma Holley
UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension
12:30Wading through the Mire(Tax credits and IncentivesDeborah Cerminaro Eldridge, Esq.
St. Petersburg College
1:00 Rainwater HarvestingBrian Gregson Rainwater Services
1:00Cleaning Your Way to a Greener LifeSarahpage
Bauguss Babygirl Products
1:30Micro-Irrigation & Greening your home’s exteriorJo Reese Mister Landscaper
2:00Saving Your Health and Your Planet With Your Purchases.Mary Ann Bowie, FAICP Eco Trans Alliance

In addition to the educational sessions, local middle-school students will be displaying Sustainability Projects on: Personal Carbon Footprint Reduction, Carbon Sequestration, Water Conservation, Composting and Energy Conservation.

For more information, contact Deborah Eldridge (727) 341-3092 email:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Green Funds Available, But Hurry!

Construction & Alternative Energy (Green): Funding To Promote Career Ladder, Business Retention & Skills Upgrade Training For Employed Workers

Deadline: Ongoing Until Funds Obligated Or Oct 15, 2009

WorkNet Pinellas, Inc. is requesting sealed proposals from qualified construction and alternative energy (green) employers for the provision of training for their existing workforce. WorkNet’s Employed/ Incumbent Worker Training programs are designed to assist employees in developing higher skills and receiving increased wages along with promoting business retention for existing Pinellas County businesses.

Download RFP
Construction & Alternative Energy RFP

Contact email:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Packaging Matters

Mary Campbell, Pinellas County Extension Director, Urban Sustainability Agent

Did you know that up to one out of every $11 you spend at the store pays for packaging? Also, when all packaging is accounted for, it adds up to about one-third of all the trash that's thrown away in the United States. By shopping carefully you can reduce excess packaging that you would throw away. Packaging protects products from contamination, damage during shipping and provides detailed product information. Some products need packaging that is tamper-evident and child-resistant. But is all packaging necessary?

Manufacturers are responding to pressures to reduce packaging or make a product more "environmentally-friendly," but you still pay for packaging every time you purchase a product. If this concerns you, there are ways you can reduce costs and waste. Not every strategy will fit every lifestyle, but you should be able to find one or more ideas to use from the following suggestions. Keep track of what you save each time by making smart packaging choices when you shop. It may not seem like much at first, but within several months you'll see a difference.

When practical, buy in bulk.
Choose reusable or recyclable packages.
Avoid excessive packaging.
Pay for the product, not the package.

When you shop, you can use strategies to reduce unwanted packaging. You can buy products in large sizes or in bulk quantities. You can select products with packaging that can be recycled or reused. You can purchase products that don't have excessive packaging and get more of the product for the price you pay. And you can "personalize" smart shopping strategies to your own lifestyle and family needs. Shopping with packaging options in mind can make a difference for natural resource conservation and at the check-out counter.

And always remember – take reusable bags to the store! Take the Pledge and be part of the over 500 people in Pinellas County who have pledge to reduce the use of plastic bags.
Click here to make your commitment!

Consumer Choices can Reduce Packaging Waste