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Orange County, Florida's Commitment to Sustainability makes it a Readiness Challenge 2021 Winner!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 7, 2021

Orange County, Florida's Commitment to Sustainability makes it a Readiness Challenge 2021 Winner!

The Smart Cities Council has announced that Orange County, Florida, USA is one of three (3) Readiness Challenge Winners - kick-starting the Council's 2021 Readiness Program. The other two winners are - 

  • Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

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Join us in this exciting adventure by registering here to be notified of upcoming sessions (open to all.)

Smart & Healthy Building Readiness Cohort

Orange County will lead a Readiness Cohort about ‘Smart & Healthy’ Buildings through the second calendar quarter of 2021 – culminating in a Scoping Charrette in Orange County with leaders from, participating cities, towns, and solution providers.

The overall goal of this Smart & Healthy Readiness Cohort is to accelerate a launch of targeted solutions to make Orange County’s built environment and public spaces through the community safe, healthy and resilient. Orange County also plans to use this effort to -

  • Launch an Energy & Environment Economic Cluster with innovative stakeholders (start-ups, solution providers, academia and others)
  • Include private real estate developers so that everyone takes advantage of the opportunity to make all of Orange County sustainable, healthy and safe (along with the fun and excitement that is already offered!)

Join us in this exciting adventure by registering here to be notified of upcoming sessions (open to all.)

Overview of Approach and Topics

Example of a Collaborative Acceleration Process

Session 1 – Project Introduction and Mobilization – Key drivers, stakeholders 

Session 2 – Benchmarking with other communities and what will success look like?

Session 3 – What are other cities doing? Ideation for the solution system

Session 4 -  Data Collection and Communication Presentation of solutions and prototyping with stakeholders

Session 5 – Data Analytics, Value and Decision Making Feedback and testing outcome

Session 6 – Funding and partnerships / What a Roadmap looks like and next steps

 'Cities Helping Cities'

An exciting feature of this Smart & Healthy Building Readiness Cohorts is that other 2020 Readiness Challenge Finalists have agreed to participate. The projects they submitted can be found here. This includes:

  • Colorado Springs, CO will present its own Smart Building Management System project
  • Morrisville, NC will present its Smart Corridor Project
  • Omaha, NE will present its Curbside Management Project
  • Palmdale CA showing how any city can be made into a virtual power plant
  • Philadelphia, PA providing insights about extracting urban design data (such as the presence of street trees, lighting, and public spaces) from digital street images to identify neglected areas and design an overall better built environment experience. See this article explaining this approach.

Global cities will also be invited to present their experience …not as dated case studies; but real world current projects.

Orange County Commitment to a Vision

Orange County has an overall goal to enhance quality of life, generate economic growth and create equitable access to resources and services across the community and public and private spaces. But having a vision (many communities do) and doing something about it is very different – especially over the past 12 months. Despite the pandemic and a significant loss of tourism Orange County decided in May, 2020 to undertake ‘on its own’ a complete review of the county’s assets, buildings, fleet vehicles, construction projects and infrastructure.

At the direction of Mayor Jerry L. Demings - with all planning completed virtually, Orange County’s Chief Innovation & Technology Officer, Andrea Wesser-Brawner worked with various county departments to form an Innovation Design Thinking Team and Chief Sustainability and Resilience Officer, Jeff Benavides, worked with various county departments to form a Sustainability and Resilience Team. Together, their goal was to work on efficiency, deployment of technology, and optimizing daily operations in County services, programs, assets, buildings, fleet vehicles, construction projects and infrastructure.

Over six months the Sustainability & Resilience team surveyed and analyzed its built environment (over 560 buildings), public spaces, transportation assets, water utility infrastructure while the Innovation Design Thinking team identified the County’s areas of opportunity and alignment for organizational management, process improvement, and collaboration The Mayor appointed a 40-member committee to provide advice and technical resources to the County’s plans.

And in six months – they produced this plan (available as a download below.)

Replicable Project Helps All Cities

The Smart Cities Council believes that cities around the globe can learn from the direction Orange County is taking to address balancing community growth and sustainability challenges – specifically with reference to its public built environment.

Already ranked #1 in Florida with the amount of solar installed per capita, Orange County in partnership with Orlando, Winter Park and other cities, is working to collaborate and prioritize increasing solar energy across the market and local government-owned operations, as well as community wide energy storage and distributed energy planning.  Priorities include enhancing redundancy, infrastructure resiliency, and a just transition to renewables achieving socio-economic benefits and green workforce programs.

Over the last three years, the Central Florida region has accelerated a suite of residential and commercial programs and policy to enhance energy & water efficiency and high-performance new construction buildings.In fact, supporting this concept of energy storage and distributed energy - one of the Readiness Challenge finalists – Palmdale, California – has agreed to present its plans to make Palmdale a virtual power generation plant – an innovative and positive approach that any city could follow.

Stakeholder Engagement

The Smart Cities Council continuously stresses stakeholder engagement when developing plans. Orange County has already started a process to include its electric utilities – Duke Energy, Winter Park Utilities, TECO, and Orlando Utilities Commission, Orlando’s own municipal utility (OUC) in this overall planning. Along with electric and water utilities, Orange County is seeking the engagement of all eleven cities in the region, universities, nonprofits and commercial real estate interests. When Orange County presented its plan to the Council as part of the evaluation process – it had already identified over thirty (30) stakeholders.


A key aspect of the Readiness Cohort planning will be reviewing how to benchmark efforts for improving the built environment. We will look at Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, WELL HEALTHY RATING  and LIVING BUILDING CHALLENGE, along with relevant energy, water and resiliency benchmarks.

The Future is Orange County

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Orange County, FL is projected to add more than 1,500 residents every week. Orlando has almost 70 million visitors a year. By the year 2030, projections have the regional population at 5.2 million requiring a sustainable approach to managing both its built environment and transportation.

The challenge is how to plan without stealing from future generations. How can Orange County be made welcoming for both residents and visitors – and still be inclusive and sustainable. This is a challenge all communities face …and Orange County is committed to solving this challenge AND importantly, sharing its vision and plans with other cities.

Along with Orlando, a 2016 Readiness Challenge winner, Orange County, Florida is setting itself apart as a leader in delivering a livable, workable and sustainable community for residents and visitors.

Join us in this exciting adventure by registering here to be notified of upcoming sessions (open to all.)

About the Smart Cities Council
The Smart Cities Council, the world's largest smart cities network, envisions a world where digital technology and intelligent design are harnessed to create smart, sustainable cities with high-quality living and high-quality jobs. A leader in smart cities capacity development, the Council is comprised of partners and advisors who have generated $2.7 trillion in annual revenue and contributed to more than 11,000 smart cities projects. Council's programs include: