2022 Sustainability Series

The 2022 Largo Sustainability Series will feature a monthly collection of stories, videos, and resources that explore the impacts of climate change on our community. This series of topics will showcase current and future conditions such as sea-level rise and urban heat islands, and their impacts on Largo residents, workers, and businesses. Participants can expect to view climate maps, find new books and podcasts, hear from other community members about their experiences, and more each month. 

Check back each month for more topics and resources. Be sure to also follow the City of Largo on Facebook (fb.com/CityofLargo), Instagram, and Twitter @cityoflargo to connect with the City and community members. Do you have a climate change story you would like to see highlighted in the series? Contact [email protected] today!

2022 Sustainability Series

February: Climate Change

What is climate change? Climate change, or global weirding as Dr. Katharine Hayhoe calls it, is the change in long-term, overall weather conditions at the regional or global level. It isn’t a hot or cold day, seeing more or less rain in a given summer, or even a single hot year- that is the weather. The climate is the set of conditions that you would expect to see, weather is what you actually get. 

Check out this video featuring astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson to learn more about the difference.  

Check out the following books, podcasts, tools, and more to take a deep dive into the topic of climate change.

Sea Level Rise
Sea Level Rise ViewerPlug in your address and see how different amounts of Sea Level Rise might impact, or may already be impacting, your community. Developed by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

Podcast Recommendation
For What It’s Earth Podcast: Emma Brisdion and Lloyd Hopkins have a friendly, easygoing rapport that makes tough, complex issues like wildfires, fast fashion, and flooding not just approachable but also enjoyable. The duo regularly brings on expert guests to discuss topics such as insects, sustainable cities, and electric cars. For What It’s Earth recently hit its 50-episode milestone with a fascinating episode about tea and coffee. Listen on Spotify or Apple. 

Recommended Reading
Saving Us- A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World by Dr. Katharine Hayhoe: Stop by Largo Public Library to explore the problem of climate change and the solution.

Search and Save Trees

Ecosia Search Engine: Did you know that you can plant trees with your search engine? So far, Ecosia has planted over 142,000,000 trees by partnering with organizations across the globe. Keep track of how many trees you plant with ease! 

Climate Change Facts and Figures

Vital Signs of the Planet: According to NASA, human activities have profoundly increased carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere. View their Vital Signs of the Planet to explore maps, graphs and more climate change facts and figures. 
Did you know that climate change can severely impact local air and water quality? Heatwaves can cause air to become stagnant and trap pollutants at ground level. Flooding can lead to sewer overflows and waterway contamination. Increases in storm severity and the likelihood of wildfires can also directly impact the quality of our air and water, which are key parts of our community’s identity and local economy.

Check out the resources below to learn more about ways to improve these vital natural systems. 

Daily Air Quality Maps
Look up daily air quality maps for your area using the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Air Quality Index map 

Find Water Quality Data
Search for water quality data in your neighborhood using the Protecting Florida Together Water Quality Status Dashboard. It also contains information about current red tide statuses, ways to stay engaged, and an online Education Center to learn more about what impacts our local water quality.  

Healthy Waterways

The quality of our local waterways is
a critical part of our public health and safety.
Watch this quick video to hear how individuals across the state are working hard to ensure that we all have access to clean, healthy waterways.  

Electric Vehicles

Did you know that electric vehicles (EVs) can greatly reduce the amount of local air pollution? Because they eliminate emissions from engine exhaust and significantly reduce emissions from brakes, driving an EV can help improve the air we breathe. Learn more about the City of Largo’s EV Ordinance and provide your feedback.  

Scoop the Poop

Stormwater is the number one source of water pollution in our area. Storm drains lead directly to our waterways with no filters from our yards, driveways and homes. Rain can carry chemicals, oil and trash from our yards to the Bay and the Gulf where it can harm fish and other aquatic life. Learn more about how you can help improve our waterways at Largo.com/Stormwater. 

Plastic Free Largo
Reduce your use and ditch the plastic! Single-use plastics are common pollutants that pose health and environmental risks to our waterways and litter streets, parks, and public spaces. Visit Largo.com/PlasticFree to learn more about the City's efforts to reduce the presence of plastic in our waterways and how you can help. 
April: Food Insecurity

For the month of April, the City of Largo is exploring food insecurity in the community as a key building block of community resilience. Food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. It can even be the lack of healthful foods, which can lead to an increased likelihood of health concerns, particularly among children. Food insecurity may reflect a household’s need to make trade-offs between important basic needs, such as housing or medical bills, and purchasing nutritionally adequate foods. More than 134,000 Pinellas County residents are food insecure with as many as 36,000 of them being children. Over 7,000 Pinellas children are chronically hungry, meaning they have little or no access to food when they are not in school on weekends, holidays or vacations. 

Join the City of Largo and numerous other organizations in the region who are committed to learning more about how food insecurity impacts our community and are fighting to end it. 

Meet Diane
Diane lives in Tampa Bay and like so many others, lives on a fixed income. “After I pay my rent, electricity, and other bills, what’s left?" she said. "You know, not much for food." Read more about
Diane's story through Feeding Tampa Bay who aims to create a hunger-free Tampa Bay by 2025.  

Edible Container Garden
Community gardens are a great way to grow your own food and save money, but what if you don’t have the space? Container gardens can fit in almost any space and most supplies can be bought at your neighborhood dollar store. Grow vegetables, fruits, greens and more!

Food Prevention Week (April 4-8)
Did you know that up to 35% of all food produced goes uneaten? With so many community members being food insecure, Largo is a partner alongside other municipalities and community organizations for Florida Food Waste Prevention Week. Visit
SaveTheFoodFL.com to learn more. 

Pinellas Community Foundation (PCF)
PCF is focused on helping those in need within Pinellas County.
Their Childhood Hunger Relief Fund was established to fight against childhood hunger through charitable donations in collaboration with the Juvenile Welfare Board and the Pinellas Office of the Public Defender. Donate your time or resources today.  

Interactive Map of Food Insecurity
Explore Feeding America’s
Map the Meal Gap tool which highlights food insecurity across the United States. It estimates that in Pinellas County alone, there is an annual food budget shortfall of over $73 million dollars.  

Food Pantry Locations
Do you or someone you know need access to fresh, healthful foods? The Pinellas County School Board keeps an
active list of food pantries available throughout the County. 

May: Housing and Utilities

Having safe and resilient housing helps protect lives and neighborhoods, and builds a more sustainable Largo. Our homes can help build equity across generations and serve as social hubs in the community. However, many homes are experiencing higher risks due to increasing storms, flooding, and heat. Building new, affordable and sustainable housing, while also repairing what already exists, is critical to our region.

Watch this Practical Guide to Climate-Resilient Buildings from the UN Environment Programme.

The City of Largo has resources for homebuyers, renters, homeowners, landlords and developers. From a first-time homebuyers program to rental assistance, visit Largo.com/Housing to explore the opportunities.

Innovation and technology are being used in unique ways to help create new types of housing. For example, 3-D printed homes are being tested throughout the world, including in Florida. Check out this video featuring Florida’s first 3-D printed home by Printed Farms.

The World Bank podcast explores the concepts and realities surrounding resilient housing. Through interviews, sound bites, and trips to countries where resilient housing is underway, we will share with you the World Bank’s new effort to support building homes better before a disaster strikes. From structural engineers to government officials, you will hear from a wide variety of professionals working to strengthen the homes we live in.

An important part of resilient housing is affordable utilities, but these prices vary widely across the U.S. Generally, lower-income households spend a larger portion of their pay on costs related to energy, compared to households of higher incomes. Duke Energy offers the free EnergyWise Home Program, where residents can get up to $147 in bill credits by enrolling. They also offer a free Home Energy Check, which can be done online, by phone, or in your home- and it comes with a free energy efficiency kit!

The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council is focused on developing new programs and tools in partnership with local governments and stakeholders to support affordable, attainable, and resilient housing goals. View their Housing Affordability & Resiliency page to learn more about their available tools and initiatives, including the Housing Inundation Assessment Tool.

June: Flooding (Sea-Level Rise)

Sea-level rise is an increase in ocean levels due to the impacts of human-induced climate change, primarily from burning fossil fuels. While sea levels won't rise equally everywhere, according to the Tampa Bay Climate Science Advisory Panel, the St. Petersburg tide gauge, which measures local water levels, shows that it has increased at least 7.8 inches since 1946- and it's rising more quickly every year. The City of Largo is currently updating its Sustainability and Resilience Action Plan to analyze current and future impacts of sea-level rise to better plan for and adapt to changes in our community. Check out the resources below to find out how rising tides might impact your home, commute, and community.  

Don't forget that flooding from hurricanes can be worse with rising tides. June 1 kicks off hurricane season, so be sure to create or update your family's emergency preparedness plan 

Rising Tides: 

Want to find your home or business's risk level to sea level rise? Just enter your address into the Risk Factor Tool from the First Street Foundation to find out. According to Risk Factor, "overall, Largo has a moderate risk of flooding over the next 30 years, which means flooding is likely to impact day-to-day life within the community." It also shows that there are nearly 5,000 properties that have at least a 26% chance of being severely flooded over the next 30 years, the length of an average home mortgage.  

Documentary- Rising Tide: Priced out in Miami

The State of Florida will feel some of the first and worst impacts of sea-level rise. The CBS News Documentary Rising Tide: Priced out in Miami highlights how sea-level rise impacts communities inland as they manage an influx of residents from low-lying areas.  

Climate-Driven Displacement 

What is climate-driven displacement? It is when climate change causes one community to be voluntarily or involuntarily replaced with another, typically one with more resources. A recent research report for The Leroy Collins Institute at Florida State University studied several areas throughout the state, including the City of Largo, to better understand how sea-level rise might cause climate-driven displacement as higher-income residents begin to move inland. The report studies several neighborhoods within the City that are likely to experience some degree of climate gentrification now and in the future and what can be done about it.  

Project Phoenix 

What if a Category 5 hurricane struck the Tampa Bay region? How would the events unfold, and what would the region look like in the storm's aftermath? The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council conducted Project Phoenix to find out. According to the simulation, one week after the disaster, only 1- percent of residences and commercial structures in Pinellas would have power. After up to six months, that number only increases to 15 percent. 80 percent of all structures in the county would have been destroyed. Visit the Project Phoenix Hurricane Simulation page to learn more and hear stories from Mexico Beach, FL, which Michael hit in October of 2018 as a Category 5 Hurricane.  

Sea Level Rise Across the County 

The Union of Concerned Scientists created an interactive map, When Rising Seas Hit Home, to explore moderate and severe impacts of sea-level rise across the country. Nearly 500 communities will be almost completely flooded by 2100 with lower levels of sea-level rise. That number will climb to more than 650 whole communities if carbon emissions continue to rise over the next several decades. You can explore these communities—and discover the consequences of rising seas—by clicking through their series of maps and pages. 

July: Heat

Did you know that heat is the leading weather-related cause of death in the United States? And with extreme heat beating down on the region and climate change driving temperatures even higher, it is critical that we do what we can to keep our communities cool.  

A  study by the Union of Concerned Scientists says that without a reduction in global carbon emissions, by 2050 Florida would see “105 days with a heat index over 100°F (up from just 25 days historically) and 63 days with a heat index over 105°F.” This month’s Sustainability Series focuses on the impacts of these rising temperatures and what we can do to help keep our community safe.  

Outdoor Workers 
From Police Officers and Fire Fighters to Landscapers and Solid Waste professionals, outdoor workers are at an increased risk of health impacts due to rising temperatures. Hear from residents in the area about what is it like for them to work outdoors, and what protections we might need to ensure their safety. 

Video: Florida outdoor workers could be impacted by extreme heat (baynews9.com) 

Urban Heat Island 
As cities continue to add concrete and increase urban development, temperatures can start to soar. This effect, known as the Urban Heat Island, happens when natural vegetation is replaced by pavement, buildings, or other surfaces that absorb heat, rather than reflect it away. Coupled with a changing climate, this can lead to serious risks to community members in urban areas. Planting trees can help reduce local temperatures, as well as painting roofs white or other reflective colors. Learn more about how the urban heat island can be reduced in your area. 

Video: https://www.wfla.com/news/local-news/urban-heat-island-causing-abnormally-high-temperature-readings-at-tampa-intl-airport/ 

Florida’s Average 
Long-term averages show that the state’s temperatures have been above normal for 57 of the last 60 months. In the future, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association estimates that Pinellas County could see 60 or more additional days a year that reach 95 degrees or higher, compared to what we already experience. Even night-time temperatures are expected to increase disproportionately, with over 150 nights with temperatures of 75 degrees or higher. In 2020 alone, over 4,750 Florida residents visited the Emergency Department for some form of Heat-Related Incident, according to the CDC’s National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network. Be sure to take steps to help keep you and your neighbors cool- here are a few tips from the National Resource Defense Council. 

What’s The Big Deal with a Few Degrees? 
On an average day, the temperature can go up and down by way more than a few degrees, so what’s the big deal with a global increase of 1 or 2 degrees? Hear from leading Climate Scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe about what this really means, why it's happening, and what we can all expect next.  

Know the Signs 
Heat can be incredibly taxing on the body. Know the signs of heat-related illnesses, especially for those most vulnerable- those that are pregnant, children, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses. The National Weather Service provides tips on how to practice heat safety including what to eat and drink, how to cool down, and how to ensure others around you are using safe practices.  

Keeping Cool at Home 
To help beat the heat, the City of Largo offers assistance to income-eligible homeowners with items such as roof and air conditioner replacement, installation of wheelchair ramps, and other health, safety and energy efficiency improvements. This could include windows, insulation, or other items that can not only keep you cool but help lower your utility bill as well. Visit Largo.com/Housing to learn more.  

August: Waste Reduction

Did you know that the average person creates 4.9 pounds of trash each day? That is over 1,750 pounds of trash each year! In 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that over 292 million tons of trash were created in the United States, with only 32% of that being recycled or composted. All of that stuff makes a big impact on the environment, including creating more greenhouse gases that are driving climate change.  

It is important that each of us does our part to reduce the amount of waste we create because small changes can make a big impact!  

No Such Place As “Away” 
Do you know what happens when you throw your trash “away”? Find out where your trash goes when you throw it "away" with this virtual tour of the Pinellas County Solid Waste Operations facility. The entertaining and educational video follows the path of garbage from a resident's trash can to the Waste-to-Energy facility and landfill. 

Get Rid Of It Widget 
Are you wondering what to do with that used PVC pipe? Do you have extra yard tools and are wondering if you can recycle them? Or maybe you have spare lumber you need to get rid of? Whatever “it” is, this tool can help you quickly find out how to get rid of it. Easily search your items and see the best and closest places to dispose of them. Visit Largo.com/GetRidOfIt to search today! 

County Recycling Guide 
Did you know that Pinellas County has a goal of zero waste to landfill by 2050? Learn more about this and everything else you need to know when it comes to recycling in Pinellas County by exploring the 2022 Recycling Guide. You can see how to book tours of the Waste-to-Energy Complex, see dates for upcoming chemical and electronic drop-off events and learn about what items are and are not accepted in your blue bin. 

Did you know that the City of Largo offers residents FREE home compost bins? In partnership with Keep Pinellas Beautiful, the City of Largo has launched the Community Composting Bin Program to encourage waste reduction and create a more sustainable Largo. Composting is easy to do and has numerous benefits including reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved soil health, and reduced fertilizer use. By placing food scraps and other organic materials in your compost bin, you can easily create rich soil to use in your yard or garden. Visit Largo.com/compost to request your bin today. 

Community Partners 
Several non-profit, government and other organizations in our community are focused on reducing waste in creative ways, below is a list of just a few of them. Do you know a place that focuses on reducing, reusing, recycling or other waste reduction efforts? Share them with [email protected] 

  • Pinellas County Swap Shop- The Household Electronics and Chemical Collection Center, or HEC3, can accept chemicals and electronics for safe disposal year-round. They also operate the Swap Shop which offers used household products such as paint, cleaners, and automotive fluids FREE of charge to Pinellas County residents. Despite the name, there is no need to swap. However, because items are free, availability can change by the minute!  
  • Habitat ReStore- Habitat ReStores are nonprofit retail centers where new and gently used building materials and home furnishings are sold at discounted prices. The ReStores are our solution for turning these donations, from generous and environmentally concerned individuals and businesses, into money to build homes for families. 
  • MakerSpace Pinellas- This nonprofit helps people of all ages learn STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) in a fun and collaborative environment. Learn how to build, create, and make all sorts of common items for your home or office and help reduce waste in our community.  
  • Other Groups- Various community-led organizations offer common and rare items for free or trade in our community. These include the Buy Nothing Project, Freecycle.org, and others all with local chapters. Local Plant Exchanges and more are also available through various social media groups.  

Please note that when trading items in person, the City of Largo Police Department offers a “Safe Zone” that is on video surveillance 24 hours a day in the PD visitor parking lot. Citizens are encouraged to make child custody exchanges, conduct buy/sell activities with unknown parties from the internet or do similar business in the two spaces in the PD parking lot. Signs designating the spaces are marked as E-Commerce Safe Zones. The video from the camera on the front of the building is not monitored, but it is recorded. 

September: Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles (EVs) are increasingly popular and while the market for EVs is still small, it is growing rapidly and this trend is projected to continue. The use of EVs instead of internal combustion engine vehicles helps improve air quality, fight climate change, reduce noise, and foster green economic development, among other benefits. 
The City of Largo is supporting this transition by installing multiple public EV Charging Stations (EVSEs)  and implementing an EV Readiness Ordinance. Largo's new City Hall is a working example of this ordinance and will offer multiple public charging stations and EV-Ready parking spaces. 

Explore the resources below to learn more about the future of electric vehicles! 

Living and Driving on Sunshine 

Are you trying to help your wallet and the environment? Watch this video from the Southern Alliance on Clean Energy
https://www.electrifythesouth.org/ to learn more about powering our homes and EVs with solar power. It covers the economics of the process and features stories from folks who have both an EV and rooftop solar. 

How does charging an EV impact the electricity grid? Are EVs really any better than regular vehicles? What if you aren’t using solar energy to charge your EV? Visit Largo’s Electric Vehicle FAQ page to learn more about common EV facts and myths.  

Find a Public Charging Station 
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are over 46,000 publicly available electric vehicle charging stations (EVSEs) in the United States. This doesn’t factor in stations that are available at individual households, which is a common charging method for the average EV driver. View the Largo Sustainability Map to find a City-owned charging station or the Alternative Fuels Data Center EV charging station locator 

EV Readiness Survey 
The City of Largo recently passed an ordinance which requires new development in its special overlay districts to install a certain number of electric vehicle charging stations, depending on the type of development. Help inform the future city-wide EV Readiness Ordinance by sharing your feedback. Whether you are a community member, developer, or just interested in the process, share your ideas by taking the EV Readiness Survey and help shape the EV future of the community! 

What Electric Vehicle is Right for You? 
The Sierra Club has put together this quick quiz to help you figure out which all-electric or hybrid-electric vehicle might be best for you. There is not an overall “best EV.” It all depends on how many miles a day you drive, whether you take frequent long trips, whether you have a place to plug in the car, what your budget is, and other factors. You can also learn about various incentives that might be available in your area for the purchase of an electric vehicle.

Past Sustainability Series
Check out the Facebook Live Playlist for 2021 Sustainability Series here.

Want to go even further back? Go watch the 2020 Sustainability Series here.

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