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

Community groups in the Metro East say the air quality monitoring requirements in a proposed Clean Air Act permit for Veolia's incinerator in Sauget, Ill won't protect public health.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio
Community groups in the Metro East say the air quality monitoring requirements in a proposed Clean Air Act permit for Veolia's incinerator in Sauget, Ill won't protect public health.

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.

More than 130 million people in the United States were exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution over a three-year period, according to a report from the American Lung Association.
Credit Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio
The City of St. Louis will be working with Bloomberg Philanthropies' American Cities Climate Challenge to cut carbon pollution from buildings.

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.

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Copyright 2021 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Eli Chen is the science and environment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio. She comes to St. Louis after covering the eroding Delaware coast, bat-friendly wind turbine technology, mouse love songs and various science stories for Delaware Public Media/WDDE-FM. Before that, she corralled robots and citizen scientists for the World Science Festival in New York City and spent a brief stint booking guests for Science Friday’s live events in 2013. Eli grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, where a mixture of teen angst, a love for Ray Bradbury novels and the growing awareness about climate change propelled her to become the science storyteller she is today. When not working, Eli enjoys a solid bike ride, collects classic disco, watches standup comedy and is often found cuddling other people’s dogs. She has a bachelor’s in environmental sustainability and creative writing at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and has a master’s degree in journalism, with a focus on science reporting, from the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.