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Buildings and Energy

How we build and operate buildings and landscapes impacts the climate, our water supply, individual health, and an owner's pocketbook. Sustainable building is one of many terms given to a suite of approaches and strategies employed to improve a building's environmental performance and provide health and financial benefits to owners and occupants. The Office of Sustainability works with multiple city departments to develop and implement initiatives that promote sustainable development and resource efficiency.

Key Initiatives

Key initiatives under the Mayor’s goal for Net Zero Energy include:

  • Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Increase Energy Efficiencies & Renewables
  • Sustainable Facility & Building Planning
  • Climate Preparedness
  • Emergency  Preparedness
  • Sustainable Procurement Practices
  • City’s Environmentally Preferred Purchasing Program

Renewable Energy

Biosolids Waste to Energy Project Development

In keeping with its designation as Florida’s first “Green City” and the award of a $2.5 million dollar grant from the Department of Energy (DOE), the City is moving ahead with the construction of a new Biosolids Waste to Energy plant. The primary purpose of the City’s Biosolids Waste to Energy facility is to process and dispose of biosolids in a manner that maximizes the value of produced renewable energy in the form of vehicle fuel, electricity and useful heat. The Biosolids-to-Energy Project reaches these goals while reducing the long-term life-cycle cost reductions of wastewater treatment for the City by over $32 million dollars over 20 years while providing a Class-A biosolids fertilizer product.

The project will also reduce the City’s carbon footprint by over 4,800 MT of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year.  The holistic approach to the project includes consolidation of solids treatment from three facilities into one, expanded liquids and solids stream treatment, and a new temperature-phased anaerobic digestion system, including digester-gas utilization as renewable compressed natural gas (rCNG) for the City’s refuse haulers as well as other public and private fleet vehicles.

When complete this will be the first digester-gas-to-vehicle-fuel facility in the state of Florida. 

Solar Power

St. Petersburg has embraced renewable energy and the city continues to strategize to increase its use and seek partnership opportunities.  Solar power has been installed at Lakewood High School, St. Petersburg, High School, Albert Whitted Park along the waterfront, and at over 20 park sites. 


A geothermal pool temperature system, an HVAC energy recovery wheel, and solar renewable energy features were recently installed at the North Shore Aquatic Complex. What a model for sustainability!

Pinellas County Waste-to-Energy Plant (located in City of St. Petersburg)

The Waste-to-Energy (WTE) plant burns our garbage, reducing its volume by 90 percent.  This means there is less material to go in the landfill.  When the WTE plant burns trash, it makes it into electrical energy, and leaves ash behind.

The plant burns garbage, heat from the burning garbage boils water, the water makes steam, and the steam turns a turbine to make electricity. The white "smoke" that comes out of the cooling towers is actually water vapor!  Both ferrous (steel) and non-ferrous (aluminum) metals are recovered from the ash by using magnets and eddy currents. The recovered metals are sold to smelters for recycling, and the ash is used for landfill cover. 

Facts about our WTE plant:

  • It can burn 3,000 tons of garbage every day, or almost one million tons per year!
  • Burning garbage can produce up to 75 megawatts (MW) per hour of electricity.
  • After we use some energy to run the plant itself, we sell about 60 MW of electricity to Duke Energy. This electricity powers around 43,000 homes and businesses every day.
  • For an informative December 2015 presentation about the WTE, click here.

Energy Efficiency

Sustainable Design and Green Building Certification

City facilities over 10,000 sf are required to apply sustainable design and green building certification approaches to design, construction, and operations of new and significantly redeveloped buildings.  The most recently certified buildings are the Water Resources Administration Building (Gold level), Jordan School (Silver Level), and Fire Station #8 (Gold Level). 

Energy Audits

Duke Energy completed energy audits of over 60 city facilities since approximately 2004.  The audits generated a list of energy conservation measures (ECMs) that provide the basis for a prioritized implementation program based on calculated payback benefits.  To date, the city has completed ECMs at most facilities.  The Office of Sustainability is currently reviewing audits and ECMs completed with various City departments to assess current status and create path forward.

Residential and Commercial Buildings

Commercial and residential construction permit applications approved after February 22, 2007 are eligible for a partial refund of permit fees if the structure constructed is certified as a green structure. For residential construction, the structure must satisfy all the requirements of the current Green Home Designation Standard of the Florida Green Building Coalition. Upon receipt of sufficient evidence of this certification of the structure, the City will refund $300.00 of the permit fee paid.

For commercial construction, the structure must satisfy all the requirements of the most current USGBC LEED standard. Upon receipt of sufficient evidence of this certification of the structure, the City will refund $1,000.00 of the permit fee paid. For development of vacant land of one acre or more, the structures and site must satisfy all the requirements of the most current USGBC LEED standard. Upon receipt of sufficient evidence of this certification of the structures and site, the City will refund $2,500.00 of the permit fee paid.  (City Code, Section 12-3, Ordinance 812-G)

Duke Energy offers free customized home energy checks and rebates and much more information for local residents.

Duke Energy offers customized incentives, product and other information for your small or large business

The City of St. Petersburg continues to work with Duke Energy to develop partnerships that will result in energy savings for homes and businesses.

LED Traffic Signals

St. Petersburg is responsible for owning and operating approximately 300 traffic signals throughout our corporate boundaries.  The city is currently replacing all incandescent bulbs in the traffic signal system with light emitting diodes, or LED lights.  These lights produce at least a 68% energy savings that will translate into a cost- benefit per year.  Technology is continually improving, and the City is currently updating it replacement plan.  Updated energy savings, cost savings, and payback period will be posted ASAP in 2016.  

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City of St. Petersburg
P.O. Box 2842
St. Petersburg, FL 33731

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