St. Petersburg, Florida Pledges to Run Exclusively on Renewable Energy


St. Petersburg plans to become the first city in Florida to run on 100 percent renewable energy, according to Orlando Weekly and the Sierra Club.

The city received a total of $6.5 million in settlement money from BP for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, $1 million of which has been set aside for environmental projects. The city council just voted to allocate $250,000 of that money to an “Integrated Sustainability Action Plan” to begin moving St. Petersburg to a 100 percent renewable energy and zero-waste model. In addition, $250,000 will be put toward assessing the city's energy efficiency, and $300,000 will go to evaluating and mitigating the area's risks from sea level rise and hurricanes.

These aren't the only moves the city has made toward sustainability. Earlier this summer, Mayor Rick Kriesman issued an executive order for the city to implement policies to eventually become a net-zero municipality, and this budget plan will further his goals.

St. Petersburg is the first city in Florida to commit completely to clean energy, and only the 20th city in the entire country to do so. However, the city has yet to create a timeline for when the transition will be completed. Around the world, many regions and countries—from Germany to Cape Verde to the Philippines—have already made such commitments, pledging to transition to clean energy by as early as 2020, though many places are operating on 20- to 30-year timelines.

[h/t Orlando Weekly]

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

This Just In
What Do You Get the Person Who Has Everything? Perhaps a German Village for Less Than $150,000

Looking for a gift for the world traveler who has everything? If cost isn't an issue and they're longing for a quiet country home, Fortune reports that an entire village in East Germany is up for sale. The tiny hamlet of Alwine, in Germany's Brandenburg region, is going up for auction on Saturday, December 9. Opening bids begin at $147,230.

Alwine has around one dozen buildings and 20 full-time residents, most of them elderly. It was once owned by a neighboring coal plant, which shut down in 1991, soon after East Germany reunited with West Germany. Many residents left after that. Between 1990 and 2015, the regional population fell by 15 percent, according to The Local.


In 2000, a private investor purchased the decaying hamlet for just one Deutsche Mark (the currency used before the euro). But its decline continued, and now it's up for grabs once more—this time around, for a much-higher price.

Andreas Claus, the mayor of the district surrounding Alwine, wasn't informed of the village's sale until he heard about it in the news, according to The Local. While no local residents plan to purchase their hometown, Claus says he's open to fostering dialogue with the buyer, with hopes of eventually revitalizing the local community.

[h/t Fortune]


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