Spotlight On: The City of University City

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As a returning participant of the St. Louis Green Cities Challenge in 2020, the City of University City remained committed to sustainable practices and programs that improve the health and quality of life of its community, restore and protect its natural resources and strengthen the economy.

University City is one of the oldest suburbs in the St. Louis metropolitan area and has been a proud participant of the St. Louis Green Cities Challenge for several consecutive years. Known for its rich history dating back to the late 1800’s and named after the community’s proximity to Washington University, U City has become a center of learning and culture, as well as an area of prosperous commercial activity. With the three P’s – People, Planet and Profit – at the core of their sustainability strategy, University City strives to remain environmentally and socially responsible while ensuring they make fiscally responsible decisions to implement various projects and programs.

During the 2020 Challenge, University City persisted with collections and public education during COVID-19 to inform residents of how to properly dispose of paint and other household hazardous waste, in addition to generating awareness for illicit stormwater discharge that would result from such waste. Moreover, the City Council established the Commission of Stormwater Issues to continue the study of this complex subject and provide recommendations for the design and implementation of projects and policies to protect the community from stormwater harm and to promote public health.

Another impressive accomplishment that helped earn the city recognition in the 2020 Challenge was a partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council and Blackbird Foundation to complete an audit of residential food waste in University City. The results from the audit will help to develop new educational programming on the importance of reducing food waste, which will also positively impact air quality in the region by limiting the amount of waste that winds up in landfills. An additional collaboration with Washington University’s Sustainability Exchange Program also led to long-overdue updates to University City’s Sustainability Strategic Plan, which was originally developed in 2010.

To further reduce environmental impact, University City formed a TreeKeeper volunteer group to focus on native planting and to remove honeysuckle and other invasive species that may pose a threat to air quality. In an effort to promote recycling and reduce paper waste, University City also established a program to eliminate delivery of paycheck stubs in envelopes for city employees by moving to electronic-only delivery and hosted a community paper shredding event, which recycled nearly six tons in total over the course of three hours!

Last but not least, University City continued to participate in the regional Grow Solar St. Louis program in 2020, which promotes education and group purchasing discounts for residential solar power, and the commercial Renew STL Solar program.

For additional information about the ongoing sustainable efforts by University City and how your municipality can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge/Green Cities Challenge, subscribe to the bi-monthly E-Newsletter or visit 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.