Environment

Austin, San Antonio, Orlando are Bloomberg climate challenge winners

Public power cities Austin, Texas, Orlando, Fla. and San Antonio, Texas, on Jan. 11 were included among the list of final winners in the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge.

Launched in June 2018, the American Cities Climate Challenge is a $70 million program designed to catalyze efforts in 25 cities “to tackle climate change, promote a sustainable future for residents and help deliver on the America’s Pledge initiative to keep the United States in the Paris Agreement,” according to a Bloomberg news release.

The other two cities named as winners in the challenge on Jan. 11 were Albuquerque, N.M., and Denver, Colo.

The five cities complete the twenty-five total winning cities in the challenge, joining the twenty others previously announced, which include the public power cities of Columbus, Ohio, Los Angeles and Seattle. The public power utilities in those three cities are: Columbus, Ohio, Division of Power, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and Seattle City Light.

At events in Austin and San Antonio, Michael Bloomberg highlighted the five new winning cities’ innovative and ambitious climate action plans that focused on reducing air pollution and citywide emissions from the transportation and buildings sectors – two areas that are on average responsible for 80% total of all citywide emissions and over which mayors have significant authority.

Each Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge winner is provided technical assistance and a support package valued at up to $2.5 million to help them achieve their carbon reduction goals. Resources include a philanthropy-funded team member to facilitate the development and passage of high-impact policies, training for senior leadership to assist with implementation of their proposed climate plans, and citizen engagement support to maximize community buy-in.

Austin will use the support from the Climate Challenge to cut emissions in the transportation sector by advancing innovative incentive programs to encourage sustainable commuting, implementing new parking management and pricing programs to reduce vehicle emissions, and working directly with local car dealerships to increase electric vehicle sales, the news release said.

In the buildings sector, Austin plans to perform energy efficiency retrofits and retro-commissioning in municipal buildings with high energy use. Additionally, the city will leverage data from existing energy benchmarking policy to increase participation in the Austin Energy commercial rebate program.

Public power utility Austin Energy posted several photos of the Bloomberg event on its Twitter account.

San Antonio will use the support and resources from the Climate Challenge to meet electricity demand for municipal operations from 100% renewable sources, increase the number of electric vehicles in the city fleet and expand the number of electric vehicle charging stations citywide.

San Antonio also plans to reduce energy consumption in municipal and private buildings through deep energy retrofits and building energy benchmarking and disclosure programs, as well as improve transit experience by developing a plan for a modern, multi-modal transportation system that can be implemented across the city.

Orlando will be using Climate Challenge support and resources to add 150 EV charging stations throughout the city by 2020 and add more than 50 EVs to rental car fleets through innovative and strategic partnerships with Drive Electric Orlando and public power utility Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC). The city will also transition more city fleet, including passenger vehicles and downtown buses, to electric.

Additionally, Orlando will pilot a new program to drive energy efficiency performance and encourage the decarbonization of existing buildings, as well as develop new incentives to encourage high-performance green building development.

Orlando will also expand community solar programs and grow other renewable energy projects in the city.

OUC tweeted a congratulations to the City of Orlando for being picked a winner in the challenged.

The Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge is part of the more than $200 million Bloomberg American Cities Initiative designed to help cities achieve critical near-term goals.

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