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Pinellas County launches new sustainability and resiliency planning process, website

Pinellas County launched a new sustainability and resiliency website this week to share the County’s current and upcoming sustainability and resiliency efforts and offer residents ideas for how they can make a difference in their community. The site can be found at sustainability.pinellas.gov.

The launch of the new website comes as the County recently began developing its first comprehensive Sustainability and Resiliency Action Plan (SRAP) to address the unique geographical, environmental, social, economic, and climate challenges of Florida’s most densely populated county.

Scheduled for completion in March 2022, the Sustainability and Resiliency Action Plan will guide Pinellas County governmental policies and programs, as well as external community services.

The development of the action plan, led by consultant VHB, will include a greenhouse gas inventory to measure the carbon footprint of County operations as well as unincorporated Pinellas County communities. The process will also include an internal review of programs and policies, and public outreach through surveys and a community stakeholder advisory group.

Amid growing concerns about sea-level rise and other climate change impacts, Pinellas County has expanded its focus on sustainability and resiliency in recent years. Some highlights of the County’s actions include:

  • Creating the County’s first Sustainability & Resiliency Coordinator position in 2019
  • County leadership in the Tampa Bay Regional Resiliency Coalition
  • An administrative directive to integrate resiliency, including sea-level rise analysis, into all future capital improvement projects
  • Co-founding the Pinellas Sustainability and Resilience Network, an informal partnership of local government officials and 10 municipalities that are implementing sustainability and resiliency programs
  • Publishing the County’s first comprehensive progress report on its sustainability and resiliency efforts
  • Entering Duke Energy Florida’s Clean Energy Connection Program later this year to offset 40 percent of the County’s energy consumption through solar power generation starting in 2024

A quarter of Pinellas County’s land lies in the Coastal High Hazard Area, an area that is considered particularly vulnerable to the effects of coastal flooding from tropical storm events. Pinellas County has seen nearly eight inches of sea-level rise since 1946, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Seventy-six percent of Pinellas County residents consider sea-level rise a concern to them, according to the 2020 Pinellas County Citizen Values survey.