Transitioning city vehicles to a "green fleet" or electric fleet is part of the plan. And for the future, there is even a new public works building planned that will incorporate the city’s new electric vehicles and other technology. (Spectrum News image)

PINELLAS, Fla. — There is a push to make city buildings more environmentally friendly in St. Petersburg.

But of course, it comes at a cost.

St. Petersburg city council voting on energy efficiency plan Plan calls for cut in gas emissions, fleet of electric cars, efficient homes, businesses

St. Petersburg city officials are trying to fit sustainability into the normal budget so it doesn’t cost residents any money.

Four years ago the city formed a department to address climate change, the focus of the group since then has been energy efficiency and it’s first action plan is set for vote on Thursday by the St. Pete city council.

Most people associate energy efficiency and going green with more expensive.

However, city officials said if done right, they can do it within a normal budget. Some of the energy efficient projects are already under way.

The new police station is a good example, with a huge solar operation on the property to offset energy use.

But there is a long way to go.

The city said more energy efficient homes and businesses will be a focus. Transitioning city vehicles to a "green fleet" or electric fleet is part of the plan. And for the future, there is even a new public works building planned that will incorporate the city’s new electric vehicles and other technology.

"We know we have a really huge program for energy efficiency just for city facilities and we can’t fund that all at the same time," said Sharon Wright, with the city of St. Petersburg. "So what we need to do is use the resources we have more wisely, more efficiently and do it in a way that we get that return on investment more quickly."

The city’s overall long range goal:

The city wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent no later than 2020. The city wants to be 100 percent reliant on what it calls clean energy by 2035. And the long range plan out to 2050 is have an 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gases.

The time frame may seem a long way off but it will be small steps over a long period of time as the city works towards its goals.

Source Article