How would you rate the overall “greenness” of Tampa Bay?
“It’s growing,” said Brian Gregson of Rainwater Services.
“The country in general has a long way to go but Tampa Bay is lagging behind. But we haven’t experienced the type of water crisis that have happened out west and the desert regions so we’re still kind of a lagging a few years behind. But I think we are growing, education is part of it, but we are growing knowledge and awareness. I’m optimistic.”
According to the “Green Cities Index” the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area ranks No. 41 among 43 U.S. metro areas in a report on America’s “green cities.”
“There is a willingness, there is an interest, there is more and more as sustainable practices are becoming socially normal,” explained James Stevenson of the Pinellas County Extension Office. “Things like reusable shopping bags are becoming socially normal so that’ you don’t stick out, you don’t look weird because you have a reusable bag anymore, that was a barrier that we had to overcome., So the willingness is there, but there”s always that fear that the momentum is going to be lost. One false move can set you way far back.”
The index, compiled by the Business Courier of Cincinnati, ranks metro areas on a variety of environmental factors, including traffic congestion, transit use, water quality, carbon emissions, LEED-certified projects and number of “green” jobs.
The index looked at variables such as commuting habits of residents, travel time and fuel use, and air and water quality. The list was topped by West Coast cities with the top spot going to the Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, Oregon/Washington metropolitan statistical area.
“I think that things are certainly moving in the right direction,” said Jason Green, Director of Saint Petersburg College Office of Sustainability. “I think mass transit is a key issue to the future. We are certainly getting a high speed rail from Tampa Bay to Orlando and hopefully, Tampa or Hillsborough will push that penny sales tax and that will push Pinellas county to follow…. We need to have curbside recycling. There is no way around that. I think we are one of the largest cities in the United States that doesn’t offer curbside recycling.”
Second on the list is the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif. MSA. The Honolulu MSA is third.
Of all the criteria considered, the Tampa MSA scored lowest in number of green jobs per capita.
“They are trying,” explained Taylor Ralph, Vice President of REAL buildings. “You know, you see a lot of governments have sustainability officers and more and more politicians are excited about talking about green building, LEED especially. We are very excited about the Tampa Bay area and Florida’s West coast area – I think there’s a lot of promise. There is a lot of work to do, a long way before we get there.”