The Clean Air Partnership places high importance on sustainability for St. Louis area municipalities and continues to use our blog to spotlight those entities that are driving change in the region. The City of Granite City, which became part of the Cool Cities Initiative back in 2012, most recently has focused its environmental efforts on air quality issues, creating a positive impact on the city and earning Granite City recognition in the St. Louis Regional Chamber’s Green Cities Challenge in both 2016 and 2017.
The City of Granite City incorporated a series of sustainable policies aimed specifically at reducing the emissions that cause poor air quality, including purchasing 20 new fleet vehicles – five electric cars and 15 hybrids. They also purchased and installed electric vehicle charging stations at the Public Works Department and the Police Station. More recently, Granite City has established an official 10 percent energy reduction plan and completed a green purchasing policy addressing janitorial paper and cleaning supplies, as well as catering supplies, napkins, cups and plates. The city also now has a policy to purchase only Energy Star-certified computers, office equipment and kitchen equipment.
The Cool Cities team and members of the United Congregations of Metro East (UMC) wrote a grant proposal that helped them to secure a $30,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)to help fund a local air quality and health improvement project. The project included:
- The establishment of an ozone garden where citizens can see the effects on ozone on ozone resistant plants compared to ozone sensitive plants.
- Installation of ozone monitoring equipment at the ozone garden and downtown six-mile library.
- Designation of a Clean Air Coordinator to communicate with all project partners and provide air quality alerts.
- Implementation of the EPA Flag Program, through which colored flags are displayed around the city to alert citizens to the air quality conditions each day based on the EPA Air Quality Index. Area residents can then modify their behavior per the accompanying Outdoor Activity Guide, which states which activities may need to be restricted as the air quality moves from healthy “green” ranges to unhealthy “orange” levels.
- Outreach to local schools and businesses, including posting of information on bulletin boards; hosting educational presentations and learning events, and creating and distributing brochures with information about air quality, causes of air pollution and the associated health risks, and tips for reducing emissions to help clear the air.
For more information on the sustainable efforts made in Granite City, check out the St. Louis Green Business Challenge website at http://stlouisgreenchallenge.com/ or visit http://greenercleanergc.org/category/local-green-news/.