Tampa 'green' rules suggested

Tired of waiting for the city staff to act, a council member unveils his own proposals.

By JANET ZINK, Times Staff Writer
Published January 11, 2008

TAMPA - Frustrated with waiting for the city staff to craft rules encouraging eco-friendly building, City Council member John Dingfelder unveiled an ordinance of his own on Thursday.

Among other things, it calls for reduced government fees for buildings with "green" certification and fast-track permitting and rezoning for green construction.

"This is incentive-driven," Dingfelder said. "They're not mandates."

Dingfelder also proposed creating an "office of sustainability" to oversee environmental protection efforts and a requirement that city-funded construction and renovation of buildings more than 10,000 square feet follow green guidelines.

"We might not be here, but we have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren and future generations to do something now," he said.

Nearly two years ago, the council asked the city staff to work on a green building ordinance. This summer, Dingfelder decided to devise one himself instead of waiting any longer.

Architects, builders and others helped him gather information on policies in other cities and counties that promote green building.

Renae Tvedt, an architect at Gensler Architecture, served on the committee.

"There are many people who would be willing to help with community outreach," Tvedt said. "I would be one of them."

She showed the council a graphic from Sports Illustrated depicting Raymond James Stadium and the St. Pete Times Forum underwater in 100 years if global warming continues on its current path.

Council member Mary Mulhern pointed out that not only do many local governments have similar ordinances, but the building industry has supported such programs.

"People area ready for this across the board," she said. "It's time for us to catch up."

The council is scheduled to discuss the ordinance at a workshop Jan. 24.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or 813 226-3401.