LARGO – A wave of applause rolled through a packed commission chambers Aug. 7 when city leaders made two decisions they say puts Largo on the path for a more sustainable future.
Commissioners voted 6-1 to become the fourth city in the state and 75th in the country to approve an organizational commitment to achieve 100 percent renewable, zero-emission energy by 2035.
Pledging to the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign was an addition to the Largo Environmental Action Plan (LEAP), which commissioners also approved Aug. 7. The plan is the city’s first comprehensive document that focuses solely on environmental impact and provides a blueprint for sustainability.
“LEAP was definitely designed to not only lay a blueprint out for us, but to showcase some of the things that we have been doing for a long time,” Largo Sustainability Coordinator Laura Thomas said Aug. 10. “I think that Ready for 100 is a great example of how we can better showcase some of our plans and operations that we have already in place now.”
As part of its pledge, which doesn’t include any firm financial commitments, the city adopted a goal to power all municipal operations with at least 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.
It also committed to supporting a community-wide transition to 100 percent renewable energy through public education and encouragement efforts, and will establish a date to achieve the goal as part of the next update of LEAP in 2021.
Largo joins St. Petersburg, Orlando and Sarasota in making the pledge.
“We are going way beyond any of our terms on this commission,” Commissioner John Carroll said, “so we’re really just kind of setting a goal out there to work toward, and it’s sort of been the theme of everything we’ve been doing with strategic planning, long-range planning and this follows hand in hand with what we’ve got out there in other areas.”
LEAP includes 35 indicators to guide sustainability efforts and focuses on three main areas: infrastructure, workforce and natural resources.
Thomas said the city will explore ways to reduce energy consumption and increase efficiencies through technology, building upgrades and retrofits.
Bryan Beckman, leader of the Sierra Club Largo Ready for 100 campaign, said the community was behind the effort and he had 400 signatures of residents and business leaders to prove it.
“The commission and city administration has already shown great leadership by creating LEAP, providing a strong framework for economic vitality and stewardship of our environmental resources,” Beckman said. “Including goals for achieving 100 percent renewable energy shows residents and businesses that the city is committed to a sustainable, prosperous future in taking a long-term view for sustainability.”
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