While area residents can look forward to breathing a little easier during the remaining weeks of fall as cooler temperatures continue to blow through the region, the importance of keeping the region’s air clean still remains high. That’s why this month, we’re pleased to shine a spotlight on Granite City, Illinois, for their unwavering commitment to environmentally-conscious practices year-round to help keep the air quality in healthy ranges.
Given its central U.S. location and access to the Mississippi River, Granite City has become a prime spot for industrial growth and put forth several initiatives to make the city a better and more sustainable community for its citizens, both now and for future generations. These efforts are led by the city’s Cool Cities Committee, an advisory group of residents who work with the Granite City government to educate and encourage residents, businesses and organizations to build a cleaner and greener city. As a proud participant of the St. Louis Green Cities Challenge now for six consecutive years, the committee has enjoyed learning what other communities throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area are doing to improve their cities and continues to be inspired by their sustainable accomplishments.
During the 2020 Challenge, Granite City participated in the University of Illinois Extension’s Garden Grant Project, which allows students and nonprofits to get hands-on experience transforming outdoor spaces into gardens, creating an immersive and educational environment that also largely benefits the region’s air quality. Additionally, the city launched a Tree Inventory Project in 2020 that aims to grow trees as ecological, economic and social resources for the city.
Among their other impressive innovations to receive recognition in the Challenge is a partnership with Granite City Art and Design District and New American Gardening to conduct research to remedy flooding in the city by using landscaping as a natural means of storm management. Another partnership with Madison County Green Schools and Six Mile Regional Libraries helped to provide an educational project titled “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot” for local schools, which featured a poster contest in celebration of America Recycles Day for K-12 students to illustrate their artistic talent and “think outside of the recycling bin.”
Moreover, graduate students from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville helped Granite City conduct a Greenhouse Gas Inventory using ICLEI’s (Local Governments for Sustainability) ClearPath Tool. Not only did the students gather and analyze data, but they also formally presented their findings to the Granite City Council and Mayor Ed Hagnauer to help gauge a clearer understanding of the city’s overall emissions.
Last but not least, Granite City also reunited with the Grow Solar Metro East project, a collaboration between several local groups who pool their finances to make solar technology installation more affordable for homeowners and businesses in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties in Illinois. The 2020 program ended with 36 homes going solar, putting 401 kW of clean, renewable energy into the region!
For additional information on the sustainable efforts underway by Granite City and how your municipality can get involved in the Challenge, subscribe to the bi-monthly E-Newsletter or visit www.stlouisgreenchallenge.com. To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, explore our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.