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Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropy group gives St. Louis $2.5 million to fight climate change

An illustration of pollution, 2017
Rici Hoffarth
St. Louis Public Radio

The City of St. Louis has received a $2.5 million in technical support from Bloomberg Philanthropies to bolster efforts to cut carbon pollution from its buildings.

St. Louis was selected to participate in the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge, a program that works with cities on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The program will largely focus on helping St. Louis lower carbon emissions produced by buildings, which contribute nearly 80 percent of the city’s carbon pollution.

In recent years, the mayor’s office has set up programs to address air pollution from buildings. An ordinance that former Mayor Francis Slay signed last year requires owners of buildings larger than 50,000 feet to track and report energy use.

“[St. Louis is] one of the first Midwest cities to pass a benchmarking ordinance to improve energy efficiency and we saw great opportunity to build off of that,” said Kelly Shultz, who leads the sustainable cities program at Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The resources from Bloomberg Philanthropies will help the city hire someone to interpret at the energy data reported by large building owners.

“That will probably involve reaching out to some of the worst performing buildings in the city and ensuring that they’re plugged into the right financing and opportunities to actually reduce energy,” Shultz added.

The two-year program will also promote solar energy and electric vehicle use in the city.

In its climate action plan, the City of St. Louis committed to cutting 80 percent of its carbon emissions by 2050, based on its 2005 levels. City officials also pledged this year to generate 100 percent of the city's electricity from renewable energy sources by 2035.

“It’s a real feather in St. Louis’ cap to have been included in this very elite group of cities and with mayors who are committed to advancing climate protection,” said Catherine Werner, St. Louis’ sustainability director.

Follow Eli on Twitter: @StoriesByEli

Eli is the science and environment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.