April 24, 2018

Green Building

New Stormwater Rules on Tap

Cynthia Barnett | 2/1/2007

Green Roof: The roof of the University of Central Florida's student union -- a joint research project between UCF's Stormwater Management Academy and the state DEP -- features a garden that holds down heating and cooling costs while reducing stormwater runoff.

Florida regulators are behind the times in allowing for water-saving, less-polluting techniques such as pervious concrete, narrower streets, green roofs and swales -- shallow, grassed ditches to replace curbs.

The more asphalt, the harder time water has seeping back into the land. Pavement and fertilized yards also add contaminants to stormwater that must be filtered out. Still, local governments across Florida often require minimum numbers of paved parking spaces and 40- to 50-foot-wide streets, even in small neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Florida's five water-management districts have five different sets of rules for treating stormwater, all of which rely on criteria developed in the 1980s for retention ponds. The ponds aren't as effective at cutting the flow of nutrients into the environment as technologies like green roofs, says Eric Livingston, bureau chief for watershed management at the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The DEP has been working to develop a statewide stormwater rule that would give developers credits for so-called low-impact development techniques, including pervious concrete, which allows water to filter through back into the soil. "We have research showing that green roofs and pervious concrete are effective and reliable. We still need to quantify credits for techniques such as Florida-friendly yards and buffers. Hopefully, we will move forward to streamline permitting with one set of rules and reduce nutrient loading at the same time," says Livingston.

Elie Araj, president of Applied Sciences Consulting in Tampa and a former Hillsborough County regulator, says developers and government officials will come around once they see that simple techniques such as cisterns can hold back runoff and allow reuse more cheaply than other technologies.
"You'll have a lot of opposition from local governments as well as developers," Araj says, "but I think once people see that this is about creating less runoff in the first place, it will make sense."

As Trend launches its new website this month, look for new interactive features, including experts who will answer reader questions about stories in our print edition. This month, one of the national leaders in the green field, Charles Kibert, answers questions about green building. Kibert, a building-construction professor at the University of Florida, is the author of "Sustainable Construction: Green Building Design and Delivery."
Send questions for Dr. Kibert to
Trend will post his answers at

Tags: Politics & Law, Around Florida, Energy & Utilities, Environment, Government/Politics & Law

Digital Access

Add digital to your current subscription, purchase a single digital issue, or start a new subscription to Florida Trend.

An overview of the features and articles in this month's issue of Florida Trend.


Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

Grand Opening of largest baby leaf greenhouse in U.S.
Grand Opening of largest baby leaf greenhouse in U.S.

Approximately 180 guests attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at what Hamilton County Development Authority Executive Director Susan Ramsey says is the largest baby leaf greenhouse complex in the U.S. 

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

Which type of tourists benefits your business most?

  • Snowbirds
  • Spring breakers
  • Summer tourists
  • All of the above
  • None of the above

See Results

Ballot Box