The city’s sustainability goals apply to the individual as well as the wider community. St. Petersburg has a rich history in promoting a healthy lifestyle. In the city’s early days, a medical group labeled it the healthiest city in America due its perpetual sunshine and gentle breezes coming across the surrounding water.
Today the city’s Healthy St. Pete initiative leads and partners in various efforts that promote exercise and a tasty, healthy diet. The Park Once campaign encourages motorists to park their car and navigate on foot, by bicycle or the electric-powered downtown trolley.
The Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, a result of ownership changes of Bayfront Medical Center which stands on property largely owned by the city, is a major resource for health initiatives. The foundation has more than $150 million in assets that provide funding for health initiatives and is the largest grant-making foundation in the city.
Keeping it Green
The active outdoor lifestyle St. Petersburg’s climate affords comes with an appreciation for keeping the environment healthy. The city offers curbside recycling. Downed trees and limbs are turned into mulch, which is made available to city residents at a low cost. Garbage that’s not recycled is burned and turned into energy at the city’s power plant. The city increasingly uses solar energy for outdoor public lighting. Charging stations for electric cars are scattered throughout downtown.
St. Petersburg leads the state in many of its environmental efforts. In 2008 the Florida Building Coalition recognized it as Florida’s first Green City. It was also the first city in Florida and one of only 20 in the nation to adopt a roadmap for 100% clean energy.
Codifying its commitment to its progressive ideals, the city created a sustainability department. It joined the national STAR Cities program in 2015. Developed by local governments, it’s the nation’s first sustainability framework and rating system. St. Petersburg is one of only a handful of ranked Florida cities. It received a three-star rating and plans to increase its score.
Duke Energy Florida, based in St. Petersburg, is committed to helping the city reach its sustainability goal.
“Duke Energy is supporting the city of St. Petersburg in its goal to be 100% renewable,” says Harry Sideris, Duke Energy Florida state president. “We are excited about our future
solar development in Florida. In the next four years, we will be adding up to 700 MW of new solar generation as part of our ongoing strategy to offer cleaner, smarter energy solutions that customers value in the Sunshine State.”
Being a growing city in a coastal region, the local government also recognizes the challenges that climate change presents. It continues to adopt preparedness plans and strengthen building requirements that will allow the sun to keep shining on St. Petersburg whatever its success or Mother Nature may bring.