OUC, Orlando's public utility, recently unveiled its electric vehicle charging hub in downtown Orlando. The $2.9-million site has 21 fast-charging stations and supports OUC's goal of increasing electric vehicle usage to help reach Orlando's goals of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Economic Backbone: Energy
Lighting the Way
In April, the city of Orlando teamed up with Kolumi — an Orlando startup that makes lighting systems out of recycled aluminum, glass and plastic — to outfit an administrative parking garage with its light fixtures.
In the months since, the fixtures have cut the garage’s energy consumption by half, according to Michael Hess, Orlando’s sustainability and resilience director. An added bonus: When Kolumi’s lightbulbs reach the end of their lifespan in seven to 10 years, they can be recycled again, leaving no waste behind.
The pilot program is an example of the many types of projects Orlando has been pursuing as part of its Green Works Orlando initiative, launched in 2007 by Mayor Buddy Dyer. The initiative included the creation of the office Hess now leads. Its directives have become guideposts that have Orlando executing a decades-long plan.
“We want the entire city to be 100 percent clean energy,” Hess says. “This has been a goal for a while.”
Over the years, the city’s tapestry of programs has included workshops and information on how residents can upgrade to solar as well as workshops for building owners who want to make their properties more efficient. Recently, the city council passed a law that requires larger buildings to report their energy efficiency ratings.
Local businesses have expertise to share too, Hess says, and collaboration is key. City officials became acquainted with Kolumi through Rally, a social enterprise accelerator in Orlando that helps connect entrepreneurs with resources. “This was us intentionally engaging with local companies who can help in our mission,” Hess says. “We have brilliant entrepreneurs here who can help us with this.”