UFIT, IFAS create website to gauge value of Florida's energy projects
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Floridians can learn extensive details about energy projects in the state with the help of a website created by University of Florida Information Technology and the Program for Resource Efficient Communities, known as PREC.
UFIT and PREC partnered last summer to create My Florida Energy Projects, which allows users to examine data from Florida’s energy-saving projects. The website application, complete with maps, graphs, and other data, went live Sept. 30, 2013.
PREC, part of UF/IFAS Extension, promotes resources that allow communities to reduce energy consumption. The site provides data collected from projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The application was created for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to help the public and policy makers determine which projects should be pursued in the future.
“The purpose of the My Florida Energy Projects website is to help Floridians understand the impacts of federal and state grant dollars for energy efficiency projects in the state,” said Nicholas Taylor, energy extension project coordinator for the PREC. “The website is intended to track cumulative energy savings and display the data in ways that help users understand the costs and benefits of each project over time.”
The site offers a map with regional project data, including grant dollars, energy saved, and dollars saved. The reported projects have saved 234,756 megawatt-hours in electricity so far, which is equivalent to the amount of energy it would take to power 21,662 homes for an entire year.
The website also includes graphs and charts with filtering abilities, an advanced search function and a glossary of terms. The graphs include the total amount of electricity saved compared with dollars spent and the total number of workshops, training, and education sessions offered throughout the state of Florida.
One energy-reduction project in Venice, Fla., has already received a 100 percent return on investment. The project combined a variety of methods, such as retrofitting buildings, installing energy-efficient light bulbs and educating the public about available energy audit and rebate programs. Besides providing data to understand which initiatives are yielding the greatest results, My Florida Energy Projects allows municipalities and counties to share best practices related to energy efficiency and conservation matters.
“We hope that this website will allow the Florida Office of Energy to continue sharing information about projects across the state for years to come,” Taylor said.
UF’s Information Technology division hosts the application and will continue to support the project. The project team recently completed an enhancement to the site’s administrative features, such as the ability for authenticated users to update project data and add new grant programs. The design and development work was done by staff in UFIT’s Enterprise Systems department.
Dave Gruber, senior director of ES, noted the importance of not only making the information available, but of developing the online tools to use with the site.
“The My Florida Energy Projects website not only provides the public with valuable project data — it also provides the online evaluation tools necessary to examine and analyze the information,” Gruber said. “The coding work was as important to the project as the website development, because the tools help the public determine which energy methods are the most cost-effective and efficient. Our staff was extremely pleased to work on a project with statewide reach.”