Some of the intersections of climate change and local policy I'd like to explore as part of the Council are:
Business Engagement Program
I'd like to see SLP create a business engagement program on climate change and sustainability. The program should educate businesses on energy-saving (and money-saving) opportunities, while also providing an avenue for them to be publicly recognized for their sustainability efforts.
According to a recent study, low-income households spend, on average, 7.2% of their annual income on utility bills -- far more than the 2.3% typical of non-low-income households. Energy and water efficiency programs targeted at renters and low-income households can save them money, lower energy usage, and reduce climate-change-causing greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning fossil fuels.
Costs for wind and solar have been dropping dramatically. Now, solar and wind are cheaper than building either new coal or natural gas plants. I want to make sure we can take advantage of this in St. Louis Park. While everyone can already, via Xcel Energy's Windsource program, have their electricity provided by renewable energy, it does cost a small extra amount on your bill. I want it to be easier to put solar panels on your home. And, I'd like SLP to partner with some exciting new community solar providers who can lower people's electricity costs -- without having to install solar panels -- and in some cases, without any up-front costs.
Sustainability Champions Program
SLP has been a leader in residential recycling and organics composting. We have a fantastic Recycling Champions community engagement program. I'd like us to evolve that program into a Sustainability Champions program, that encompasses a broader range of residential activities around overall sustainability and reducing our individual impacts on climate change.
Electric Car Infrastructure
Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are becoming more numerous, and are an often cost-saving alternative to gas powered vehicles. SLP needs to plan an effective electric car charging infrastructure, with special consideration to multi-family rental properties, to make sure electric vehicles are not just viable for homeowners.
Living Streets Policy
A draft Living Streets Policy, to help guide transportation investment, was presented to the Council in 2017. The goal of the policy is to support neighborhood livability and equity by making sure streets are vital and healthy places. It aims to provide community benefits (public health, safety, create a sense of place, strengthen community), environmental benefits (water quality, air quality, reduce greenhouse gases, reduce urban heat island effect, promote tree planting), and economic benefits (lower initial construction costs, lower on-going maintenance costs, increased property values).
The Policy was just adopted last month. I'd like to see it effectively implemented.
Organizations like SLP SEEDS are doing great work focused both on eliminating hunger and cooling the planet. I'd like to uplift programs like these that are educating people about choosing and preparing local food, and helping people start and maintain local gardens.