Kareem Johnson | Digital Journalist

Group Seeks Intern to Begin Work on City Climate Plan

By Kareem Johnson | Email the author | January 30, 2011

A Richmond Heights nonprofit wants to work with an intern to evaluate the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and map out a more sustainable future.

The Friends of Richmond Heights held a meeting Wednesday at City Hall to learn more about the Regional Environmental Internship Program sponsored by Focus St. Louis. Jan Niehaus of the Friends of Richmond Heights Hosted the event.

More than 20 people came to hear more about the plans. They included City Manager Amy Hamilton, who is a member of the Friends board.

John May, a resident of Creve Coeur and a Focus St. Louis board member, gave a presentation about Creve Coeur’s pilot version of the program. May is a member of the Creve Coeur Climate Action Task Force. Creve Coeur participated in 2009 with help from a Saint Louis University intern.

May said he thinks this is a program that can be replicated throughout the region.

Creve Coeur’s climate plan is composed of five major steps:

  • Make a formal commitment to proceed.
  • Assess greenhouse gas emissions and energy use.
  • Set goals in an action plan, based on the assessment.
  • Implement the plans.
  • Measure progress with another assessment and update the plan as needed.

“The process in Creve Coeur was to build organizational resources first and then implement specific strategies,” May said. He also recommended that simpler strategies be implemented first rather than expensive projects.

The greenhouse gas inventory in Richmond Heights would be composed of two parts. First, an intern would visit city departments, gather information about how much they are spending on energy and take measurements. Second, the intern would use the data to develop an action plan aimed at helping the city reduce energy usage.

The intern would work approximately 40 hours a week, May said. Creve Coeur got started on its environmental initiatives by paying $600 to join the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), a group of goverments focused on sustainable development. A donation helped pay for the intern’s stipend.

Jan Niehaus, chair of the Friends’ Sustainability Team, stated in an e-mail interview that Richmond Heights will be the first city to use an intern under Focus St. Louis’ internship program.

“The city was well aware of Focus St. Louis, since the city participated in the survey that led to Focus publishing the Roadmap to Sustainability in 2009,” Niehaus stated. That report is aimed at helping St. Louis communities become more sustainable. But at the time, the internship program didn’t exist.

Richmond Heights residents should expect the internship program to yield a greenhouse gases inventory and at least a semi-completed climate action plan.

The council is expected to vote in February on a resolution to get the process started, Hamilton said. If the resolution passes, the city would join ICLEI.

City staff would manage the intern, and ICLEI would provide the tools for conducting the greenhouse gases inventory, she said.

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