American Cities Climate Challenge: 5 New Winners Selected

January 16, 2019

Bloomberg Philanthropies

The newest, and final, winners of the expanded Bloomberg Philanthropies Climate Challenge have been announced. The cities of Albuquerque, Austin, Denver, Orlando and San Antonio are the final of twenty-five winning cities to be awarded resources and technical support to help achieve their ambitious climate goals. According to a news release issued January 12, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action Michael R. Bloomberg joined Austin Mayor Steve Adler and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg in Austin and San Antonio, respectively, to announce the final winners.

The five newly-awarded cities complete the 25 total winning cities in the challenge, joining the twenty others previously announced: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Saint Paul, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle, St. Louis, St. Petersburg, and Washington, D.C.

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. Albuquerque, Austin, Denver, Orlando and San Antonio join the twenty other winners in a two-year acceleration program that will provide powerful new resources and access to cutting-edge support to help meet or beat their near-term carbon reduction goals.

At events in Austin and San Antonio, 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. Bloomberg recognized Mayor Steve Adler and Mayor Ron Nirenberg at the events, as well as Mayors Keller, Hancock, and Dyer, for their commitments to ambitious climate action and for safeguarding healthier environments for each city’s residents.

“Washington has been trying to drag us backwards, but America really is moving forward on climate change as cities continue to lead where Washington hasn’t and won’t,” said Bloomberg. “It’s great to see Albuquerque, Austin, Denver, Orlando and San Antonio step up and meet our Climate Challenge with ambitious plans for tackling carbon emissions, and we’re glad to support them as they build healthier and stronger cities,” he added.

City Projects Boosted with Resources

Each Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge winner is provided robust 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 is fighting hard to mitigate climate change, from investing heavily in wind and solar energy production, to approving a 100-year strategic water plan that conserves precious resources,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said. “And as a winner of the American Cities Climate Challenge, we’ll go even further to reduce emissions and promote a healthier environment for our residents.”

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. 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.

“The impacts of climate change are being felt across Texas, and this holds true for San Antonio as well,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “Over the next two years, Bloomberg’s American Cities Climate Challenge will help us fulfill our commitment to creating a more climate-resilient city and promoting cleaner air, lower energy costs, and green economy jobs for a stronger, healthier, and more equitable San Antonio for all.”

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. The city’s 311SA civic tech app was featured in a news article on this site when it launched last October.

“City residents are on the frontlines of climate change—from heat waves and drought, to hurricanes and flooding,” said Rhea Suh, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the primary delivery partners for the Climate Challenge. “These mayors are not waiting on Washington to act. They know that—together—they can build a better future for our children. And that’s what they’re committing to do today.”

Along with Austin and San Antonio, the three other cities announced by Bloomberg today will work with Bloomberg and partners, including the National Resources Defense Council, to implement their climate-action plans and lower city-wide carbon emissions. Specific ways in which the award-winning cities will implement projects, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies, include the following priority projects.

Albuquerque will use its support to develop a solar energy field to provide service to the City of Albuquerque government operations and achieve 100% energy use from renewable resources by 2022. The city will also implement deep energy efficiency retrofits and retro-commissioning of municipal facilities, advance energy efficiency throughout the private sector, and transition light-duty municipal fleet to electric vehicles to help meet its goals.

Denver will focus on using resources and experts awarded through the Challenge to transform its EV market through an education and test-drive campaign and create utility incentives to encourage investment in EV charging infrastructure. The city is aimed at further reducing emissions from its transportation sector and will work to improve high-frequency transit lines, add new corridors of high-frequency public transit service, redesign streets to prioritize safety for walking and biking, as well as offer incentives to increase public transit ridership. Denver was featured in an article detailing the Smart Cities Open Lab, published after its inaugural Smart Cities Alliance Symposium last fall.

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 the Orlando Utilities Commission. 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. Finally, Orlando will expand community solar programs and grow other renewable energy projects in the city.

For his city’s part, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer noted that included among Orlando's plans in the grant is the addition of 150 electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city by 2020.

"Cities throughout Florida are facing tangible and immediate effects from climate change, and Orlando is no exception," says Dyer in a statement. He added, "With new resources and support, we are prepared to step up with real solutions that will not only improve our resilience and sustainability, but also create green jobs for our residents. We look forward to getting to work and are excited to be a winner in the Challenge that will help us create a more resilient Orlando."  

Orlando’s efforts have been reported on by Smart & Resilient Cities, as seen in this article, and include a wide range of initiatives led by Dyer and Chris Castro, the city’s Sustainability Director.

About the Challenge

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. 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.

Resources included among the $2.5 million grant include a philanthropy-funded team member to facilitate the development and passage of impactful policies, training for senior leadership to assist with the implementation of proposed climate plans and citizen engagement support to maximum community buy-in, the website states.

 

 

Overlay Init

Curated By Logo