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By: Kara Franker

Home to a delicate ecosystem that balances everything from the Everglades to Miami Beach, environmentalism is very important in Miami.

To ensure that the city is as environmentally conscious as possible, Miami is going green. In an effort to continue making Miami a “progressive, pragmatic city,” Miami’s leaders are enforcing green building codes and beach laws, city chefs are making their restaurants more sustainable and creating recipes from local produce and seafood, and citywide facilities are doing their part to make a positive impact on the environment.

Miami Beach Convention Center

First built in 1957, the Miami Beach Convention Center is one of Miami’s largest venues for large-scale productions: from business, trade and civic events, to hosting the official Art Basel exhibition during Art Basel Miami Beach. Today, it is undergoing a $515 million renovation project, which will both expand the building to 1.4 million square feet and meet LEED® certification standards.

To make it entirely sustainable, the new convention center will facilitate rain harvesting for cooling towers, have water fixtures that reduce water use, add sun shading, use high-efficiency LED lighting and daylight to keep the interior areas well-lit, save 200 trees that exist currently and add new canopy trees. All of these initiatives and more will reduce energy consumption in the building by 20 percent, and though the venue is in operation now, it will be fully completed in 2018.

LEED®-Certified Hotels and Florida Green Lodging in Miami

Many hotels in Miami are being built according to LEED® standards. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is the international standard, monitored by the US Green Building Council, for energy efficiency in building, design and construction. Under this recognition, LEED® buildings are entirely sustainable. They are favored for using less water and non-renewable energy sources, giving individuals healthy settings in which to work and live, lowering costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Sitting just on top of Batch Gastropub, the popular Hampton Inn & Suites Miami Brickell/Downtown was the first hotel in Miami to earn this certification in late 2012. It did so by installing low-flow water fixtures, efficient washing machines, high-efficiency boilers and sustainable lighting. In the years since, other hotels have followed suit: like The Miami Beach EDITION, 1 Hotel South Beach and the Courtyard Cadillac Marriott, the first LEED®-certified hotel in Miami Beach.

In Miami, many major hotel brands are members of the Florida Green Lodging Program, including: Best Western, Courtyard by Marriott, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Hilton, Hyatt, JW Marriott, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton and Westin. The Florida Green Lodging Program, a voluntary initiative that designates and recognizes lodging facilities committed to conserving and protecting Florida’s natural resources, was created by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in 2004. To make sure they meet certain standards of sustainability, Florida Green Lodging hotels are evaluated according to five areas: Communication & Education, Waste Reduction, Reuse & Recycling, Water Conservation, and Energy Efficiency and Indoor Air Quality.

More information about these and other eco-friendly hotels in Miami.

Bike Trails in Miami

One way to help the environment is to reduce car fuel emissions, thus making cycling more popular than ever before. Aiding this initiative, in recent years, Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami have been working hard to make bikes a prominent source of transportation in Miami by adding CitiBikes, paving bike-friendly lanes, and of course, creating bike trails.

While bike trails can now be found throughout the major areas of Miami, some of the more popular ones include: Oleta River State Park, in North Miami; Snake Trail, in Miami Gardens; Rickenbacker Causeway, Crandon Park, Bill Baggs State Park and Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, in Key Biscayne; Old Cutler Trail, in Coral Gables; and Shark Valley in the Everglades.

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