FT. LAUDERDALE, FL - Broward County offered tips for local municipalities looking to reduce their carbon footprints at a recent meeting with representatives from cities in the county that received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Eighteen cities received grants from the DOE's $3.2 billion Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, which is funded by the $787 billion federal stimulus package. The biggest grant, just over $2 million, went to Fort Lauderdale, with $1.3 million going to Pembroke Pines and $959,000 to Miramar.

The meeting addressed ways municipalities can create emissions inventories and track their carbon footprint, said Maribel Feliciano, manager of the county's Pollution Prevention, Remediation and Air Quality Division.

Feliciano said cities can use the same methodology as the county to calculate an inventory for city operations - that is, everything a city government runs, including electric costs for buildings and fuel used in a vehicle fleet. A city could also create a communitywide inventory that would calculate the carbon footprint created by residents, she said.

Although the county isn't part of the grant program, it has its own plan established in 2008 to cut back on pollution. The county's goal is to cut emissions to 7 percent below the 1997 levels by 2015. That translates to about 208,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

The county estimates that if no plan was implemented, emissions would surpass 300,000 tons by 2015. In 2008, the county exceeded its annual goal with a reduction of 10,100 tons.

Energy efficiency is important for local governments strapped for cash because of budget problems, Feliciano said. "It's important that we identify efficiency because it results in cost savings to the county," she said.

More information on the County's green efforts is available at www.broward.org/climatechange.