Mayor Lyda Krewson Is Leading the Fight on Climate Change

UPDATE: The City of St. Louis pressed forward with its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals by passing an ordinance that will make solar readiness a standard for residential and commercial buildingsonly the second of its kind in the United States and first in the Midwest. The ordinance, which passed unanimously and was signed into law by Mayor Krewson, will require newly constructed buildings to be solar ready in compliance with the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code. This means all buildings constructed in St. Louis will need to have sturdy roofing that is optimally oriented and has conduit to the electrical service panel that has dedicated space labeled “For Future Solar Electric.”

Why is this important? Solar installation is much less costly when engineered while the building is being constructed. Meaning: more residents and business owners will be able to lower installation costs for rooftop solar, which are approximately $4,000 for homeowners and $25,000 for commercial buildings. This ease of installation is especially important to GHG emissions reductions. The ordinance saves homeowners and businesses more than money, too. If 10 percent of the newly constructed solar ready buildings install a solar system in the future, the City estimates as much as 23,000 metric tons of GHG reductions by 2030. That’s equivalent to taking almost 4,900 cars off the road for a year!

The Mayor previously announced that the city is already ahead of schedule in its plan to reduce carbon emissions. Combined with this solar ordinance, it's clear that the city is serious about tackling climate change and improving air quality for its residents. St. Louis is the second city in the country to pass a solar ready ordinance and the first city in the Midwest, continually showing it is at the forefront of climate action.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson made a pretty audacious announcement at an October 22 event on climate change at Washington University: the city has made so much progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, she thinks it is time to set a new target for St. Louis.

As one of 25 Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge cities across the US, the Gateway city has already reached its 2020 goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, showing the city is capable of achieving its ambitious climate targets. According to the city’s most recent Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory and Report, government emissions showed a 20% reduction in 2018—two years ahead of schedule—and the community is not only on track to meet their 2020 goals, but both government and community GHG emissions both appear to be on track to reach the 28% reduction target in 2025.

At the event, the Mayor raised the bar for the entire community, encouraging the city to take on a 100% GHG reduction goal above and beyond the 80% by 2050, another ambitious target that also factors in climate justice. During her speech Krewson remarked, “It’s a challenging goal, but if we don’t set these goals we have no chance of making a real difference.”

The numbers show the City’s leadership on tackling carbon emissions has been incredibly effective. This month also marks St. Louis release of their first benchmarking report which provides an analysis of the energy and water data reported in just over one thousand, privately and municipally owned buildings in St. Louis through 2018. You can read the benchmarking report here.

"The climate emergency makes the need to act clear,” declared Mayor Krewson. “Global warming has pervasive, costly local impacts. We have made impressive progress, but more work remains. I'm grateful for the support from Bloomberg Philanthropies to help the City implement its Climate Action Plan strategies by taking several new climate actions." 

On November 8, 2019, Mayor Krewson and Alderwoman Heather Navarro will partner to introduce a Solar Readiness Board Bill, representing the first piece of climate legislation proposed since the City became a recipient of the American Cities Climate Challenge award.

“The benefits of solar power should be available in every neighborhood and to everyone and this bill helps ensure that our response to climate change is an equitable one, expanding the opportunities and benefits of renewable energy,” said Alderwoman Navarro.

At the heart of the Midwest, the City of St. Louis is making significant progress toward its climate targets, and Mayor Krewson is leading the charge.

About the Authors

Stefan Schaffer

City Strategist, American Cities Climate Challenge

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