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Kriseman unveils sustainability initiatives

Mayor Rick Kriseman announced a plan to make St. Petersburg a far greener city Thursday, unveiling an executive order to develop a climate action plan to address sea level rise, retrofit city-owned building of more than 10,000-square-feet for energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption.

The docment reads like a wide-ranging mission statement of 11 sustainability goals with promises of performance metrics and monitoring.

Just no specific numbers or targets. Yet.

Kriseman said those will be developed in the coming months.

"It's a big deal for us," he said. "These are all areas that we've really got to start attacking."

While the numbers are still being collected, the mayor said, changes are on the way.

"We may have to change our ordinances. We may have to change our building code," Kriseman said. "Sitting here today I couldn't give you numbers until we really dig into it."

One key component will be for the city to join Star Communities, a non-profit organization that certifies sustainable communities. To get a five star rating would be a lure for major companies to relocate, said Mike Connors, the city's Public Works Administrator.

"Lots of Fortune 500s are gravitating toward this," Connors said at the City Council's Energy, Natural Resources and Sustainability Committee meeting.

Darden Rice, that committee's chairwoman, said Kriseman's action is welcome development on the path to an environmental sustainable future.

"It really shows the city undersands and values sustainability. It's not a a stand alone environmental issue, but one related to public health, housing, transportation, equity and economic vitality when we do it right," she said.

And with climate change already affecting Florida's coasts, she said, there's little time to lose.

"We are a coastal city and resiliency is what it's all about now," Rice said.