Environmental Services Inc. (ESI) News

Hi, my name is Tony Pooley with Environmental Services, Inc. (ESI).  ESI is a full-service environmental consulting firm headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida with divisions in Ecology, Archeology, Forestry, Site Assessment and Remediation, and Cultural Resources. I head up the Sustainability and Resiliency Development Division for ESI with a focus on the three pillars of Sustainability: People, Planet and Profit. This means that we develop projects that will 1) have a tangible benefit to the community (People); 2) the project must enhance, restore & protect our environment (that’s the Planet part); and finally, 3) the project must make money (Profit). It’s the inclusivity of all three of these guiding principles that make a project sustainable.

I recently had the privilege of working with a talented group of leaders in an Urban Land Institute (ULI) Technical Assistance Panel.  We were tasked with evaluating the economic impact of the new U.S. 301 Bypass, and how to best attract new industry and business to Bradford County to help revitalize the Town of Starke.  My contribution for this exercise focused on Sustainable Agriculture.

Bradford County touts an impressive amount of active agriculture, and with this resides a sense of pride and deep desire to keep the rural character that is indicative of the farming culture. I see these “farm-life-values” as a strength AND coupled with the People-Planet-Profit model I mentioned earlier, Bradford County could consider converting a percentage of current crops into Industrial Hemp Agriculture.

Now quickly, I’d like to provide a little “Hempstory” and dispel the myth of Hemp. What are the differences between Hemp and Marijuana? Both are a form of cannabis; however, Hemp is NOT marijuana, and does not contain the psychoactive ingredient of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).  Hemp is comprised of Cannabidiol (CBD) that is non-psychoactive.  In fact, prior to being banned and unintendedly named in the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, Hemp cultivation had a long history in the U.S.  In 2018, Hemp was removed as a controlled substance making it an ordinary agriculture commodity, which is not on the rise in the U.S.  In fact, just last week the Industrial Hemp Legislation passed unanimously in both the House and Senate in the State of Florida.

Let me quickly break it down how this fits into the People-Planet-Profit model.

  • PEOPLE: Farmers Hemp is a cash crop for farmers. Famers can boost financial sustainability by using greater diversity of marketing techniques: processing on farms, creating value added products and strong brand identity. Community Vitality: When farmers hire help and sell in the community, they contribute to the local economy. Spark industry: Hemp has 25k in potential product applications such as supplements, skin and body care products, clothing and fabric, paper, biofuel and pre-fab construction products like Hempcrete.
    • Products: Hemp can be made into synthetic plastic. Hemp plastic is non-toxic and biodegradable, and it is also much stronger than conventional plastic. FIBER: Hemp can compete with cotton as cotton uses 50% more water than Hemp and cotton also uses up to 25% of the world pesticides and 10% world pesticides.  Tree paper: One acre of Hemp yields as much as 4 acres of trees in one growing season (100 days) that is in comparison to the years it takes for pulp trees to mature and be processed for paper products.  FUEL:  Hemp based biofuel is 86% greener than gasoline and can be used in existing transportation vehicles. HEMPCRETE: is touted as the most energy-efficient construction material on the market, bringing annual energy savings to homeowners and improving the building sectors carbon-dioxide emissions.
  • PLANET: The environmental benefit of Hemp is impressive – it grows everywhere and anywhere. It is naturally resistant to most pests; it grows very tightly spaced, which allows it to outcompete most weeds.  This greatly reduces pesticide, herbicide and nutrient loads that are currently wreaking havoc upon Florida’s waterways.   It is a natural substitute for cotton and wood fiber. Industrial Hemp absorbs more CO2 per acre that any other forest or commercial crop and is therefore an ideal carbon sink. In fact, one hectare of industrial hemp can absorb 22 tons of CO2 per hectare. It is possible to grow two crops annually, so CO2 absorption is doubled.
  • PROFIT: In Canada, Hemp farmers benefit from profits of up to approximately $250 per acre, and a farmer who planted 1,000 acres of Hemp netted $250,000. By comparison, corn wheat brings in variable profits of $30-$100 per acre. The U.S. imports an estimated $150k worth of raw Hemp annually and the U.S. Hemp Product Industry is valued at $500k in annual retail sales. To quote Governor Desantis, “Florida is now on the verge of establishing a state Hemp program creating a multi-billion-dollar industry”. 

Can you imagine if Starke could become a manufacturing hub for these products, and in turn help generate a significant amount of jobs for this region?  As they like to say in Starke, “It’s Better in Bradford,” and I think this is fitting, and possibly more so considering the potential for Industrial Hemp be the new face of Bradford County.



Want to know more about the People, Planet Profit model and how you can work it into your current city, county and business model? Contact me! 

Tony Pooley, Sustainability and Resiliency Development 

Email: tpooley@esinc.cc

Phone: 904-470-2200 ext. 134

Twiiter: @apooley7575

Instagram: @jaxsustainiac



Rhodes Robinson made a presentation to the class of ULI leadership training in February. The theme for the day was healthy living and healthy development. Rhodes' topic was the environment and sustainability’s role in healthy living, and the current slide related to the view out of ESI’s conference room window which includes trees, light, open space, and an abundance of wildlife.

Five Sustainability Myths

As we have grown into our ever-evolving, sustainable way of thinking, we have bumped up against a number of sustainability barriers and myths. Hopefully, the following list will help you avoid the same obstacles and pique your interest enough to leave you wondering what sustainability management could help you, your family and your business achieve.

Myth 1: Sustainability is all about the environment.

Sustainability’s goal is to balance and maximize the economy, society and environment. These three sectors are often referred to as the Triple Bottom-Line, or “People, Planet, Profit.”

Even the foundation of most environmental laws in the U.S., the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, stressed balancing social, economic and environmental needs.

Myth 2: Sustainability and “Green” are the same.

“Green” is primarily focused on producing, using and disposing of goods in an environmentally superior and conscious way, which is a good thing. However, it often falls short of its goal because it doesn’t always take in to consideration the economic and social impacts of those goods.

Ex. A product that is biodegradable is generally better for the environment than something that is not. However, if that product is disposed of and sent where it cannot biodegrade, like a landfill, it is no better than something 100% non-biodegradable.

Myth 3: Implementing sustainable solutions into your personal and professional lives is expensive.

Initially, incorporating sustainability into your daily life might be more complex or time-consuming than what you’ve done in the past.  However, if you add up all of the benefits of incorporating sustainable solutions and compare them to conventional solutions, sustainability costs you less money in the long run.

Ex. Take the de facto mascot of sustainability, LED lightbulbs. It is a fact that an LED lightbulb costs significantly more than its CFL or incandescent counterparts; however, once you factor in the energy savings, improved lifetime (leading to fewer bulb purchases and cost associated with replacement), and the reduced heat load (leading to lower A/C costs), the LED bulb outperforms all other options.

Table 1. Light Bulb Cost Comparison.                                                                 





Purchase Price




Wattage (all equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent)




Lifetime (assuming 3hrs/day, every day)

22.8 years

7.3 years

.9 years

Heat Emitted (btu/hr)




Lifetime cost (based upon LED lifetime)




Source: Product declarations available on manufacturer’s websites and Home Depot product descriptions. All bulbs currently available at Home Depot.

Myth 4: I have to buy something new to be sustainable (like LED lightbulbs).

Using a new product or piece of equipment certainly can help, but it isn’t required. Examining what and why you do what you do will likely reveal the potential for a more sustainable option.

Ex.  Turning off your lights when you leave a room or opening a window’s blinds and using natural sunlight uses 100% less energy than a LED, CFL, or incandescent bulb.

Taking a bus with other riders:

  • Gets you out of your car, saving you gas and money;
  • Reduces congestion, which saves other drivers gas, time, and money;
  • Spares the environment from additional GHG emissions and the need to extract additional resources; and
  • Creates at least one job (the bus driver) for someone in the community, possibly leading to:
    • More money for their family,
    • Better food,
    • Better healthcare, and
    • More education, etc.

Using double-sided paper, reusing old paper as scratch paper for notes or drafts, turning off computers, car-pooling, and using dishware from home at your workplace are all sustainable and don’t require new purchases either.

Myth 5: No matter what I, or my business does, we aren’t making a real difference.

If your sustainability initiatives never leave your desk, then this is true. However, if your business truly engages its employees and teaches them how to be more sustainable at home, then the impact has been multiplied. Furthermore, engaged employees will share how they saved money with their friends and family, who will then share with their friends, family and workplace - multiplying the impact again. This cycle is what makes sustainability work and THAT is what will change the planet, one family and business at a time.

ESI is focused on living out its sustainability commitment (at home and in the office) by developing habits and policies such as sending zero waste to landfills, replacing lights, appliances and equipment with more energy efficient and versatile models, and providing sustainability guidance, growth and potential savings to our new and existing clients.

Please contact me if you have any questions, comments, concerns or if you’d like to discuss how ESI can help you or your business develop a customized sustainability plan. 

Tony Pooley, Sustainability and Resiliency Development 

(904) 470-2200 ext. 134


Tony Pooley 1 final



The City of Jacksonville is rediscovering the value of its older urban core. ESI’s Historic Resource Specialist, Patricia Davenport-Jacobs, and GIS/CAD Senior Manager, Rusty Newman, were among many local professionals, community representatives, city staff and civic leaders who contributed their insights and ideas for the development of this study.

Preservation Green Lab of the National Trust for Historic Preservation highlights how Jacksonville’s older buildings and blocks are already outperforming newer areas of the city across many sustainable development metrics; but they can become even stronger. Analysis of data from city, state, and national sources points to numerous areas of the city with high potential for successful reinvestment and revitalization. Unlocking this potential requires stronger incentives, innovative new policies, and increased awareness and capacity in the nonprofit, government, and private sectors.

Using a methodology developed by the Preservation Green Lab, the study includes an analysis of all of Jacksonville’s existing structures to assess the connections between the character of the city’s building stock and more than 30 measures of neighborhood livability, economic vitality, and diversity.


ESI recently completed an onsite relocation of Venus flytraps for a client in southeastern North Carolina.  This relocation allowed our client to complete their development goals for the property and also protect valuable natural resources.  Projects like these are a win-win situation - balancing development interests and rare plants and natural communities.

The Venus flytrap is North Carolina’s most recognizable carnivorous plant in part to its highly modified leaves that function as a trap for insects.  The native worldwide range for Venus flytrap is limited to a few counties in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina.  The habitat for Venus flytrap includes wet to moist soil areas associated with pine savannas.   This species is considered to be in decline throughout its range due to habitat loss and over collection, with more urban areas being especially vulnerable. 

The Venus flytrap is not afforded federal protection, but is afforded limited state protection that controls collection, relocation, and commercial sales of individual plants.  While development impacts to this species are not currently regulated, this species is being evaluated for future federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

Voluntary efforts to protect existing populations of the Venus flytrap assist in stabilizing this species and prevent the need for future federal listing that would place federal regulation on the development of sites that contain suitable habitat for this species.

During the course of ESI’s evaluation, a total of 573 individual Venus flytrap were identified on the property.  An estimated 478 individual Venus flytrap were relocated from areas proposed for construction to areas on the property outside of the proposed construction limits.  The remaining Venus flytrap are located in areas of the property not planned for development. 

The relocated Venus flytrap and those identified outside of the construction areas on the property will not be impacted by future construction.  It is anticipated that the Venus flytrap will remain as a stable community component in the project study area.

Article written by: Matt Smith, Project Manager, ESI

ESI's Sustainability and Resiliency expert, Tony Pooley, was spotted at the "Up the River Downtown" Annual 10K Swim promoting Sustainability in Sports and cheering on the athletes!

The race was presented by Jumping Fish and DRC Sports, and 45 swimmers participated in an open water swim to help spotlight excellence in sports and promote the awareness campaign to Activate the St. Johns River. The race began at Jacksonville University and ended at the Riverside Arts Market at the Fuller Warren Bridge. ESI was proud to sponsor the water quality testing for the race and provided a short post-race survey to all athletes regarding Sustainability in Sports. 

What does sports have to do with Sustainability? Sporting events can bring together mass amounts of people in the community under the common cause of celebrating athleticism, strength, and excellence.   However, waste, water, and energy use at these events also generate some sort of environmental footprint. Sporting event organizers are increasing looking to “green” their events. However, sustainability is more than just being “green”; at its heart it is about efficiency, measurability, and accountability that create a positive impact and legacy for a community. This is why Sustainability Planning and Reporting are key guiding principles for sporting events.  These events can serve as an excellent platform to promote the three guiding principles of sustainability: Economic Growth, Social Inclusion, and Environmental Protection.

Sustainable sporting events can be inspiring and transformative if the event requires, measures, and reports natural and human resources in a transparent and efficient way. As a result, they will contribute to the local economy and spur tourism.  Let sustainable sports become an effective branding tool with all of our sporting events and help bring all the social and environmental benefits to making Jacksonville more sustainable.  Please contact Environmental Services, Inc. for your quick guide to Sustainability Reporting for your event, business, or home.

The survey race results are in. Of the 24 people surveyed:

  • ALL individuals indicated:
  • Interest (at least some level of) in learning more about sustainability regarding sporting events
  • Interest (at least some level of) in participating in a shoe reuse drive at a triathlon event
  • Concern for environmental issues
  • Participating in general recycling when proper resources are easily available
  • 88% of individuals indicated:
  • Willingness to pay extra for more sustainable options at events
  • Felt it was important that food provided at this event is locally and sustainably sourced
  • 83% of individuals indicated:
  • Willingness to opt out of a pre-race event bag or participation medal to reduce materials and waste generation
  • 29% of individuals indicated that the recycling visibility/placement at this event was either excellent or good, and the other 71% felt that it was okay or poor
  • 29% of participants were attending their first race
  • The majority of participants travelled from less than 10 miles, 42%, or over 30 miles, 33%. The remaining travelled between 10-19 miles, 21%, and 20-30 miles, 4%.
  • 54% of participants drove themselves, 42% carpooled or took an Uber, and one individual walked or biked.


If you are interested in taking the survey, please do so here, and thanks for your participation! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ESISurvey2018 

Rhodes Robinson was a guest speaker in ESI's Assistant Scientist, Cara McCann's, Limnology (fresh water ecology) lab at UNF. The class is taught by Professor Dr. Kelly Smith. Rhodes was happy to share his extensive knowledge and experience of wetlands with the group. He also discussed some of the legal and practical applications of identifying wetlands for consulting work. 

Pictured: storm damage in St. Martin after Hurricane Irma, https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hurricane-irma/hurricane-irma-leaves-path-destruction-caribbean-n799981

For any inquiries on how to make your business more Climate-Smart, contact ESI's, Tony Pooley, Resiliency Sustainability Development Lead, at tpooley@esinc.cc

Climate resilience is needed

Increasingly severe and frequent climatic events in the Caribbean have triggered many people to start looking beyond traditional disaster relief strategies for a long-term solution to climatic disasters.  Irma alone wiped out 14% of GDP in Antigua and Barbuda and decimated an estimated 200% of Dominica’s GDP.  Such storms not only affect the Caribbean’s economic development, but also the everyday lives of the 40 million people living in the region, making new, innovative policies and disaster resilience an absolute necessity on the agenda of these island states.  Many Caribbean governments are finding a foundation of resilience by simply better understanding the land on which they inhabit.  Green infrastructure—servicing the ecosystems that already exist in an area—may be the pathway to wealth, health, and improved social relations in afflicted countries, providing personal security from natural disasters through nature’s own processes.

Green infrastructure can be anything from a natural and restored native ecosystem to a protected open space or working land.  Wetlands, wildlife habitats, and nature preserves offer valuable processes that can provide a “land and water legacy” for present and future generations if protected and serviced properly.  The Ecological Society of America describes green infrastructure as “functioning natural ecosystems [that] perform services that are the fundamental life-support systems upon which human civilization depends.”  The environmental functions of green infrastructure, such as wetlands, can provide groundwater replenishment, storm protection, nutrient retention, and storage of carbon—a major role in climate change mitigation.  For example, Florida’s cypress swamps remove 98% of all nitrogen and 97% of phosphorus from wastewater before water enters the ground reserves if in a healthy and functioning state.  Deterioration or destruction of wetlands through human intervention can release dangerous levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, leading to accelerated warming of the Earth and intensification of storm events.

Green infrastructure can also create monetary gain to suffering economies in the Caribbean through income generation for local workers, increased tourism from the rejuvenation of an ecosystems’ natural beauty, and prevention of further costly environmental deterioration.  Local communities in Vietnam saved the equivalent of US $7.3 billion per year that they would have paid in dyke maintenance through the restoration of mangrove forests.

Such benefits of green infrastructure have been observed in the coastal community of Negril in Jamaica.  After an unofficial no fishing zone in Negril lead to substantial rejuvenation of lobster, shrimp, and fish populations, the group of fishermen who first enforced this rule decided to build on this task to involve climate change adaptation through revival of sea moss growth.  With the help of the Coastal Protection for Climate Change Adaptation, Negril has broadened its green infrastructure initiatives to include the protection of the natural mangrove forests and coral reefs, as well as restoring man-made structures like groynes and revetments.  These services aim to minimize the impacts of climate change on the island and improve climate resilience in Negril.

Many Caribbean nations have united in a “climate smart zone” coalition, pledging to this idea of green infrastructure.  The Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator is working “to build low-carbon and resilient infrastructure including nature-based approaches, to better withstand future extreme weather events. It will do so by identifying and uniting commitments to building a more sustainable and resilient future for island nations through collaboration between national governments, regional and international institutions as well as public and private sector organizations.”  It is these type of partnerships and leadership from Caribbean leaders that will move the needle on sustainable development and green infrastructure implementation in the Caribbean.  Green infrastructure goes beyond traditional conservation strategies to create ecosystem rejuvenation alongside development, infrastructure planning, and growth.  This congruence of environmental and economic goals leads to shared values, providing mediation of opposing viewpoints of the “developer” and “conservationist” to achieve both economic growth and thriving ecosystems.  Over time, green infrastructure could lessen the burden of hurricanes and natural disasters that Caribbean nations face.

Article written by:

Tony Pooley, Sustainability & Resiliency Development

Allison Hajda, Sustainability Intern 






Green Infrastructure by Mark A. Benedict and Edward T. McMahon

Ecosystems and Disaster Risk Reduction: Working Paper in Contribution to the Global Assessment Report

ESI is closely monitoring the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s (FWC) Imperiled Species Management Plan.


FWC is currently exploring changes to certain species and the Conservation Measures and Permitting Guidelines for those species.

Draft overall plan: Imperiled Species Management Plan


Currently there is an open public comment period concerning these draft guidelines that lasts until July 20, 2018.

Provide comment: http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/imperiled/species-guidelines/


Two species that affect North East Florida are:

Draft Osprey Species Guidelines

Draft Southern Fox Squirrel Species Guidelines



ESI can answer any questions you have as these changes are explored. Please contact Craig Jacobs, Rhodes Robinson, or Gary Howalt at 904-470-2200


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