The Florida State University

IESES Newsletter

July/August 2010 
Image of Melanie Simmons
IESES has had a wonderful year promoting and creating next generation sustainable energy science and policy. 

Dr. Dave Cartes, Director
Dave at JMI
I hope you have enjoyed the IESES newsletter.  In the future, we will be providing more targeted quarterly newsletters to international and national audiences, another that includes more local interest to the Tallahassee and FSU audience and yet another to the Student Association for Sustainable Energy.  We hope this targeted approach will keep you well informed in the future.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to contact me at

Education Key to Promoting Energy Efficiency Behaviors
Dr. Laura Arpan
Laura Arpan
The Center for Environmental Media Production and Research, which includes professors Laura Arpan, Andrew Opel and Philip Steinberg and graduate student Jia Lu, recently reported the results of their research entitled "Home Energy Conservation and Efficiency in Florida: A Survey of Residents' Behaviors, Intentions and Perceived Barriers and Perceived Benefits." 

Dr. Andrew Opel
Andrew Opel
They surveyed over 400 Florida residents to better understand how to more effectively promote and increase efficiency and conservation behaviors of Floridians in their homes.  Baseline measures of Floridians' past, current and intended future energy-related behaviors were collected.  What they found was that most people who have not enhanced the energy efficiency of their home do not do so because they feel the costs of those improvements will be prohibitively high.  Many lack knowledge about existing efficiency programs and incentives.  Others were not sure which choices were the most effective. 

The authors concluded that the most effective way to promote energy efficiency behavior is to increase education about low or no cost energy audits, improved insulation, caulking and weather stripping, and the extent to which small things like replacing light bulbs and adjusting the thermostat impact overall efficiency. They recommended that programs that encourage more people taking part in existing programs and incentives need to be better and more frequently marketed to the public.
Dr. Philip Steinberg
Phil Steinberg

One promising finding is that people surveyed who were aware of efficiency improvements had more energy efficient behaviors.  Many of these people had already had an energy audit, improved weather stripping and caulking in their homes as well as improved their home insulation.

Access the full report.

Drs. Arpan, Opel and Steinberg are IESES partners. 
Responding to Sea Level Rise on Florida's and Australia's Gold Coast
Professor Tim Chapin of the FSU Urban and Regional Planning Department spent about a month in Australia researching local governments responses to climate change and sea level rise. Dr. Chapin was a visiting fellow at the Griffith University in Gold Coast outside of Brisbane, Australia on the Coral Sea.

While there, Dr. Chapin gave a presentation as part of
DDr. Tim Chapin
Image of Tim Chapin
Australia's ongoing climate change response, a multi-university initiative called The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, on "Adaptive Response to Sea Level Rise on Florida's Gold Coast."  In the presentation, Dr. Chapin discussed Florida's responses to climate change, with specific attention to Miami-Dade County's response to rising sea levels.

Click here to view and listen to Dr. Chapin's presentation.

An Image from Dr. Chapin's Presentation
Image of Sea Level Rise

Dr. Chapin is an IESES Partner.
FSU Measures Local Government Energy Sustainability
Dr. Richard Feiock.
Image of Richard Feiock
Ever wonder what strategies local governments in Florida are implementing concerning energy and climate change sustainability?  Although 89 percent of city and county administrators feel that energy and climate change issues are important among the citizens in their jurisdictions, only 8.5 percent have an energy or climate change plan in place.

Municipalities and concerned citizens would benefit from a Local Government Energy Sustainability Index to compare their efforts and capacities to other local governments. This measure is being developed by faculty and students at The Florida State University.   The index will be used to identify what factors influence local government energy policy decisions and identify barriers to policy implementation.
Dr. Ivonne Audirac
Image of Ivonne Audirac

Dr. Richard Feiock, an IESES partner and Director of the Sustainable Energy and Governance Center, has released findings from the IESES Energy Sustainable Florida Communities project. The project surveyed local governments across Florida.  Dr. Feiock partnered with Dr. Ivonne Audirac to complete the research.  As a next step, the researchers will develop an index to evaluate and compare energy sustainability among communities. 

Find out how local governments in Florida are doing on:
* Energy and Climate Policy
* Energy Cost Reduction by  
* Economic Development
* Comprehensive Plans & State and
  Federal Policy
* Land Use and Open Space
* Zoning Regulations, Subdivision
  Regulations and Permitting
* Housing and Green Building
* Transportation and Green Transit
* Organization and Intergovernmental 

Access the Florida City Survey Results.

Both Drs. Feiock and Audirac are IESES Partners.
How Fast Can Microbes Break Down Oil Washed Onto Gulf Beaches?
by Andrea Wolf at

A new Florida State University study is investigating how quickly the Deepwater Horizon oil carried into Gulf of Mexico beach sands is being degraded by the sands' natural microbial communities, and whether native oil-eating bacteria that wash ashore with the crude are helping or hindering that process.
Dr. Markus Huettel
Image of Markus Huettel

What oceanography professors Markus Huettel and Joel E. Kostka learn will enable them to predict when most of the oil in the beaches will be gone. Their findings may also reveal ways to accelerate the oil degradation rate  -- and speed matters, because toxic crude components that remain buried on Gulf Coast beaches may seep into the groundwater below.

"This enormous oil spill affects hundreds of miles of beaches in the Gulf of Mexico," Huettel said. "We can remove the oil from the beach surface, but oil is also carried deeper into the sand, and we need to understand what happens to that oil. Preventing groundwater contamination is crucial not only to Gulf Coast residents but also to coastal management and local economies like fisheries and tourism that depend on water quality."

"We will also study the effect of the dispersant known as Corexit on oil
Dr. Joel E. Kostka.
Image of Joel Kostka4
metabolism by natural microbial communities," Kostka said. "Through contacts in the field, my laboratory has acquired Corexit and source oil from the MC252 (Deepwater Horizon) well head for use in our experiments."

St. George Island, Fla., and Dauphin Island, Ala., have served as the primary research sites since early June, when the one-year study began. In addition, the researchers have obtained heavily oiled sand from Pensacola Beach, Fla., and from a barrier island off the Louisiana coast. If warranted by the oil's movement, they will also collect near-shore water and sediment samples from other Gulf beaches.

Funding for their collaborative research comes from a "RAPID" (Rapid Research Response) grant from the National Science Foundation. Read more.

Their NSF-funded study ("Rates and mechanisms controlling the degradation of crude oil from the MC252 spill in Gulf of Mexico beach sands") is the latest of several collaborations between Huettel and Kostka that have examined organic matter transport and degradation in Gulf sands. The current project also contributes to the energy-related research that Kostka performs for IESES, which has been heavily involved in providing information and expert advice to Florida's Governor's Office and Legislature regarding oil and gas development.

Dr. Kostka is an IESES Partner.

A Report of the Proceedings of the Florida Symposia on Offshore Energy - Part I and Part II - is Online

Symposium view

Access the Full Report Here

This report is a transcript of the Symposia series including presentation materials, citations and executive summaries for both Part I and II.
In This Issue
Education Key to Promoting Energy Efficiency Behaviors
Responding to Sea Level Rise on Florida's and Australia's Gold Coast
FSU Measures Local Government Energy Sustainability
How Fast Can Microbes Break Down Oil Washed Onto Gulf Beaches?
Global Sustainability Summer School at the Santa Fe Institute
FL Department of Transportation Wins Award with FSU Research
Sustainable Energy Policy & Green Government Course
STUDENTS! Join the Seminole Association for Sustainable Energy
Global Sustainability Summer School at the Santa Fe Institute
Hongtao Yi, a graduate student in The FSU Askew School of Public Administration and Policy, was invited to participate in the  Global Sustainability Summer School at the Santa Fe Institute

This intensive two-week program explores global sustainability from many perspectives with particular focus on social ramifications. Only 30 participants out of 200 applicants were invited.  Participants included students, professors, writers, government officials and people working in the private sector from across the globe.

The instructors are world class pioneers in the study of sustainability, climate change and complex systems, including Dennis Meadows, the author of Limits to Growth and John Schellnhuber, the Director of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research. The Director of Global Sustainability Summer School is Doyne Farmer, a founder of chaos theory in physics and a leading researcher of complex systems and its application in climate sciences.
    The lectures, discussions, formalized debates and group projects covered a wide range of topics including climate change, sustainability and ecosystem resilience. The group project Hongtao Yi worked on was an agent-based model of collective action of sustainability.

Hongtao Yi in Taos, New Mexico
Image of Hong Tao

FL Department of Transportation Wins Award with FSU Research
The FSU applied research project "Conserve By Transit" has been honored as an award winner of the Federal Highway Administration's and Federal Transit Administration's 2010 Transportation Planning Excellence Awards Program, which is co-sponsored by the American Planning Association.

Dr. Melanie Simmons of IESES,
Dr. Melanie Simmons
Image of Melanie Simmons
Harrison Higgins, the former Planner-in-Residence in the FSU Department of Urban and Regional Planning 
Harrison Higgins
Image of Melanie Simmons
and Dr. Paul Ruscher of the FSU Meteorology Program developed a greenhouse gas emissions calculator for regional transit
agencies in Florida.
Dr. Paul Ruscher
Image of Melanie Simmons
Read more

Dr. Ruscher is an IESES Partner.
Sustainable Energy Policy & Green Government Course
An interdisciplinary
class on Sustainable Energy Policy and Green Government will be taught this upcoming semester. 

The course provides an analysis of the management and political economy of sustainable governance initiatives.
Topics covered include  developing innovative
environmental initiatives, implementing sustainable
governance plans and the effectiveness of green government policies.
A main theme of the class will be deliberating the proper role of government in areas such as energy production, green building and transportation.

Class Info
When: Tuesdays and Thursdays
           2:00-3:15 P.M.
Room: 114 Bellamy
Registration #: PAD4936-17
Instructor: Anthony Kassekert
For more information, contact Anthony Kassekert at

Instructor Anthony Kassekert
Image of Tony K

STUDENTS! Join the Seminole Association for Sustainable Energy
  • Professional Development and Networking
  • Research Opportunities
  • Funding for Travel
  • Career Development Training
  • Stay in Contact with Seminole Association for Sustainable Energy as You and Your Colleagues Grow Professionally. 
SASE logo

Also, federal work-study positions and internships are available at IESES. 

Contact Melanie Simmons at

Schedule of Tours of the Off-Grid Zero Emissions Building
Image of Melanie Simmons
Which Dates: First and third Friday of the month
When: Tours begin on the hour between 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM
Where:see Map
Contact: Shannon Ingersoll at

Join Our Mailing List!

The Institute is a public resource. Here we carry out scholarly basic research and analysis in engineering, science, infrastructure, governance and the related social dimensions to further a sustainable energy economy. The Institute unites researchers from the disciplines of engineering, natural sciences, law, urban and regional planning, geography and economics to address sustainability and alternative power issues in the context of global climate change.
The Center for a Systems Approach to Bio-Energy Research;
The Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis;
The College of Business Center for Sustainability Initiatives;
The Center for Environmental Media Production and Research;
The Public Utility Research Center; and
The Florida Energy Systems Consortium.

Editor: Melanie Simmons at
FSU IESES Newsletter
2000 Levy Avenue, Suite 360
Tallahassee, FL 32310
(850) 645-9165

Editor, Melanie Simmons PhD at FSU IESES