TAMPA — Two years after introducing the idea, the City Council on Thursday gave preliminary approval to measures that will bring eco-friendly buildings and policies to the city.
"It couldn't have happened at a better time," said council member Linda Saul-Sena. "With gas at $4, a drought and global warming, it's very timely."
Among other things, the new rules allow building permit rebates for green construction, pledge to have Tampa designated as a Florida Green Local Government by October 2010, and require reducing irrigated turf in the landscape of new projects from 50 percent to 25 percent by 2013.
"It's a real positive step for the city," council member John Dingfelder said. "But it's only a first step. When it comes to these sustainability issues and energy-savings issues, we're going to need to continue to do a better job as a city government and as a community. But I'm real pleased with the first step."
Council members had been pushing Mayor Pam Iorio and her administration for years to prepare a green building ordinance.
Frustrated with waiting, Dingfelder unveiled an ordinance of his own in January. That prompted rapid negotiations with Iorio on a final product.
Meanwhile, Iorio launched several initiatives, some of which were originally suggested by Dingfelder and other council members.
In recent months, Iorio began expedited permitting for green building projects, appointed a sustainability officer to oversee environmental efforts, announced plans to construct city buildings with more than 5,000 square feet to national green building standards and began installation of Florida-friendly landscaping at city fire stations.
Iorio also started driving a hybrid car last year and is adding hybrid vehicles to the city's fleet.
"The community poked and prodded the council and the council poked and prodded the mayor," Dingfelder said. "In the end, the important thing is that it just gets done, regardless of how it gets done."
A final vote on the measures is scheduled for June 26.
Janet Zink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3401.