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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. National studies by the Department of Energy have found that buildings account for about 40 percent of national CO2 emissions and out-consume industrial and transportation sectors, but LEED-certified buildings in the U.S. have shown to consume about 25% less energy, 11% less water, and have divert millions of tons of waste from landfills (Reassessing Green Building Performance, A Post Occupancy Evaluation of 22 GSA Buildings, U.S. DOE 2011).

To address this problem, the City of St. Petersburg has made a commitment to shift away from energy generated by fossil fuels to investments in clean, renewable energy.  We are also seeking ways to make our buildings more energy efficient by encouraging green building practices.  Pursuing these goals can curb waste, save money for businesses and residents, boost the local economy, and support a cleaner, healthier environment.  The city is also addressing lighting and alternative fuel needs for energy efficiency.

Recent Initiatives

  • Develop an Integrated Sustainability Action Plan (ISAP) which will include a roadmap to 100% clean energy
  • Partner with the USF Clean Energy Research Center to conduct an initial energy efficiency & retrofits analysis resulting in immediate retrofit projects on one or more city facilities
  • Improve energy and water data collection and tracking
  • Evaluate financing options for city government and community investments for ongoing energy-saving projects
  • Include renewable energy (solar PV) and energy efficient design in new construction of large capital projects
  • Biosolids Waste to Fuel Project (in part, with a grant from Department of Energy)
  • Partner with Foundation for Healty St. Pete and the International Well Building Institute to set standards for WELL Communities incuding energy efficiency, clean air & water, food access, walkability, and more using the Tropicana Field Conceptual Master Plan as a pilot example.

Ongoing Programs

Solar Parks Intiative

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!

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. In addition, the city is incorporating an infrastructure (as opposed to building) sustainable design approach with options for certification under the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure's Envision program. 

The most recently certified buildings are the Water Resources Administration Building (Gold level), Jordan School (Silver Level), and Fire Station #8 (Gold Level). Projects currently using sustainable design and green certification approaches include the Pier District, the new Police Headquarters (downtown) and Training Facility (Woodlawn), Fire Station #7, and the Tropicana Field Conceptual Master Plan.

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 its replacement plan. 

Pinellas County Waste-to-Energy Plant 

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. 

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