Green Practices Commission

green practices logoThe Mission of the Green Practices Commission of University City is to encourage sustainable practices and programs that improve the health and quality of life of our community; restore and protect our natural resources, and strengthen our economy.

Green Practices Commission meetings are held on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 5:30 pm, Heman Park Community Center, located at 975 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Visit Public Documents - Green Practices Commission to view the monthly agendas, minutes, sustainability plan and other reports (select the Green Practices Commission folder). All agenda item requests should be submitted on the Sustainable Practices Request Form and returned to the Public Works and Parks Department for review.

The Green Practices Committee was formed in 2008 with a goal to develop a comprehensive strategic plan recommending ways University City become sustainable at the municipal, residential and commercial levels. The Committee was charged with developing practices in University City that improve environmental quality, decrease waste, conserve natural resources and energy, thereby establishing University City as a practical model for other municipalities and businesses. The Committee is made up of residents with expertise in seven areas, including, Ecosystems/Habitat, Water/ Storm Water, Air Quality/Transportation, Water/Resource Conservation, Land Use/Open Spaces and Parks, and Energy/Green Buildings. In October 2010, the Committee completed a draft Community Sustainability Strategic Plan for the City. The plan addressed complex energy and environmental issues.

In August 2011, the Committee was formalized into a Green Practices Commission. The Commission acts in an advisory capacity to the City Council. The Commission has seven members appointed by City Council. The Commission shall make a study of the sustainability practices of the City in the seven areas and have the following powers and duties, including but not limited to:
-Establish sustainability goals, prioritize and track progress;
-Review and advise the City regarding projects and initiatives for all development and redevelopment;
-Establish a list of prioritized projects to be initiated by the City.

The Committee presented the draft Sustainability Strategic Plan to City Council on Monday, October 18, 2010. The plan was completed in September 2011 and revised in January 2012. The Sustainable Strategic Plan is divided into seven areas with key concepts including, Ecosystems/Habitat, Water/Storm Water, Air Quality/Transportation, Waste/Resource Conservation, Land Use/Open Space/Parks, Energy and Green Buildings. To view the presentation slides, click here Sustainability Strategic Plan - GPC
In 2018, University City endorsed the OneSTL Regional Sustainability Plan. As the City continues to make improvement on its facilities and for the community, here are a few ways that you can go green:
Energy and Emissions:
  • The St. Louis Audubon Society envisions an ever-growing mosaic of native plant and animal landscapes across the St. Louis region, including even the smallest urban yard. The Bring Conservation Home Program provides on-site advice to private landowners in the greater St. Louis area for the restoration of native plant and animal habitat on their grounds. Because University City is a community partner, University City residents receive a discounted rate for the program. Find out more here.
  • Avoid invasive species in your landscaping by becoming familiar with plants classified as such.
  • Learn more about native trees and tree canopies at Forest ReLeaf of Missouri.
Materials and Recycling:
  • It is important to recycle, but we must remember that recycling is the third choice. We should consider reducing and reusing before recycling. The first “R,” reduce, means eliminating or decreasing the amount of waste we produce or reducing the toxicity of the materials. Check out the list of waste reducing tips from the EPA.
  • Unsure about what is recyclable?  Find out here.
Healthy Transport:
  • Walk and bike when you can. Read about University City's 2013 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan
  • Metro Transit is a world-class transportation system that includes buses, vans, trains, MetroLink, transit Centers, and more! Learn about the Metro-Transit and all of their services.
Water and Stormwater:
  • Stormwater - rainwater or melted snow that runs off streets, lawns, and other sites - is best handled when absorbed into the ground instead of carrying pollutants to storm drains and the river.  Preventing stormwater runoff keeps our waterways clean as well as reduces downstream flooding. Learn more about stormwater managment and green infrastructure here:
  • Illicit discharge is defined as “any discharge into a storm drain system that is not composed entirely of stormwater.” Particularly of concern is illegal or intentional dumping of materials. Yard or plant waste, oil or grease, overuse of pesticides and herbicides, pet waste, and hazardous waste are examples of illicit discharge. If you notice an illicit discharge, immediately call MSD's 24 hour hot-line: 314-768-6260.
  • Conserving water helps the planet and your pocketbook.  Find some handy tips to conserve water from American Water.
For more information, check out University City's Sustainable Development Guidelines for new construction, renovations, and improvements big or small.

University City is demonstrating that local governments can realize increased energy savings, environmental health and economic benefits by implementing "green" best practices. University City is under the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. The agreement outlines areas where cities can make changes to become more environmentally responsible. Since signing the agreement in 2008, University City has taken steps to conserve energy and implemented several "green" initiatives:

  • Uses biodiesel to fuel city trucks.
  • Fills tires of city vehicles with nitrogen.
  • Promote the purchase of gas-electric hybrid vehicles.
  • Added energy-efficient windows, lighting, restroom features, elevator and boiler in City Hall.
  • Switched all city-owned traffic signals to LED bulbs.
  • Developed a citywide single stream recycling program in 2008.
  • Implemented a citywide printing, copying and mailing services administrative regulation in 2009 to lessen the impact on the environment and reduce costs of doing business. Employees are encouraged to only print documents when necessary, reuse paper as note or draft paper, print documents double-sided, recycle discarded paper and to turn off computer monitors, printers, fax machines, copiers and lights when leaving the office.
  • The City purchases recycled content paper at a discounted rate along with other local municipalities.
  • Installed more than 20 miles of bike paths, walking and pedestrian trails.
  • Installed textured sidewalks, pedestrian scale lighting and count-down pedestrian crossing signals in high traffic areas.
  • City Park benches installed after 2009 are made of recycled materials.
  • Developed a Bike and Walkability Task Force in October 2010 who help to develop a Community Bike and Walk Master Plan. The draft plan as completed in June 2012. Once adopted, the Bike and Walk Master Plan will be integrated into the U City Comprehensive Plan.
  • Installed signs advising motorists to share the road with bikes.
  • Installed a permeable paved parking lot near the local Post Office in 2009.
  • Permeable paved municipal parking lot #1, next to the Tivoli Theatre, will be completed in 2013.
  • Continued commitment to an on-going tree replacement program.
  • Installed two dedicated employee car pool parking signs and spaces in the City Hall parking lot.
  • Help to manage storm water at several city-owned and residential properties in University City by coordinating the installation of 4 rain gardens, 1 storm water pond and 65 rain barrels throughout the City.
  • Considering instituting green building code.
  • The City installed a solar powered Pay Station Unit for paid parking in the Tivoli Parking lot in the Delmar Loop.
  • Appointed a Green Practices Committee in 2008 who developed a community Sustainable Strategic Plan in 2010. This committee was formalized as a Commission in 2011.
  • Developed a Sustainability in University City webpage promoting activities of the Green Practices Committee and local "green" resources and projects available to the community.
  • Retrofitted 121 street lights on Olive Boulevard by converting 87 of the double head light fixtures to single head light fixtures and reduced all of the 100 watt high pressure sodium bulbs to 70 watt bulbs during summer 2011.
  • Completed an Energy Audit (report available in the Green Practices Commission folder) of several municipal buildings and developed an energy master plan. The project was completed and recommendations were submitted to City staff in March 2012.
  • Retrofitting City owned lights with more energy efficient options using funds from the Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant at the Central Garage location, fueling station lights, lights in Wellesley Tunnel, and the City-owned parking lot lights in the Delmar Loop area.
  • The fueling station light retrofit is projected to provide a 74% reduction in energy. The four 400 watt metal halide fixtures were replaced with four 98W LED fixtures in February 2012 and the energy savings equals $453 cost savings each year. See before and after pictures posted in February 2012 edition of the online City Newsletter
  • During April 2012, four city-owned lights in Municipal Parking Lot (#3) were upgraded to more energy efficiency options.
  • Twelve high pressure sodium City-owned lights in Municipal Lot (#4)were replaced with LED fixtures during summer 2012.
  • Five University City owned streetlights along Pershing and Forest Park Parkway were retrofitted to energy effcienct options (LED lamps) in October 2012.
  • Delmar Street Light Pilot Project - Twenty-two high pressure sodium streetlights on Delmar in the Loop were replaced with LED (17) and ceramic metal halide (5) fixtures for a 60 day test period in November 2012.
  • Indoor light fixtures and lamps were retrofitted to energy efficient options at several city-owned buildings/facilities, including, Centennial Commons (basketball ball court area), the Parks Maintenance Facility and Central Garage. The projects were completed in fall 2012.
  • Completed a green house gas emissions inventory in July 2011 and currently working on reduction targets. The inventory report is available online
  • University City is competing against other cities in the 2013 Earth Hour City Challe
  • Honorable Mayor Welsch signed the Global Cities Covenant on Climate -"The Mexico City Pact"- making University City a member of the Global Cities Covenant on Climate. The Covenant demonstrates the political leadership of local governments in addressing the global climate change challenge. 
Walking trails and bike routes were developed to help reduce the amount of miles traveled by vehicles and reduce vehicle emissions. Another way to reduce vehicle emissions is by switching to cleaner vehicles, including gas-electric hybrid, biodiesel and E85 flex-fuel vehicles. Biodiesel is the name of a clean burning alternative fuel produced from domestic, renewable resources. It contains no petroleum, but can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics. Biodiesel exhaust has a less harmful impact on human health than petroleum diesel fuel. Biodiesel has demonstrated significant environmental benefits with a minimum increase in cost for the City's fleet maintenance program. The City has switched all of its diesel trucks to run on biodiesel and fills tires of municipal vehicles with nitrogen to keep them inflated longer and improve gas mileage.

Incandescent traffic signals have been replaced by LED lights, which operate using considerably less energy. LED traffic lights cost more to install, but save energy and money. Some lights in city buildings have been changed to compact fluorescent bulbs and remaining incandescent bulbs will be replaced as they burn out. During City Hall renovations energy-saving windows and heating and air conditional systems replaced old systems. City Hall now features "smart" electric panels to regulate lights, water conservation features in restrooms, a low-energy elevator system and energy efficient boiler. All these changes helped the 100 year old City Hall building receive LEED Certification in 2008. LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council which is a non-profit membership organization whose vision is a sustainable built environment within a generation. View the City Hall LEED Certified Project profile here City Hall Profile

Green Tips

10 Easy Recycling Tips

We Encourage Everyone To Use Reusable Water/Drink Containers. You can keep tons of individual water bottles from crowding up landfills and even save on the energy that would be used to recycle them by using reusable drink containers. Keep an eco-friendly drinking container or bottle that can be refilled and re-used. If you are planning a small meeting or training, offer an eco-friendly drinking container or provide glassware instead.

Recycle at Work and Home. Did you know you can recycle at your desk? Place unsoiled paper, drink containers, magazines, cardboard, etc, right into your recycling container. It can all be mixed together as long as it is not soiled with food. Almost 90 percent of the waste generated at work can be recycled. Help preserve the environment, do your part, and recycle! If you need a recycling container contact the Public Works Department at 314-505-8560.

*Inevitably, in going about our daily lives--commuting, sheltering our families, eating--each of us contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. Yet, there are many things each of us, as individuals, can do to reduce our carbon emissions. The choices we make for our homes, travel, the food we eat, and what we buy and throw away all influence our carbon footprint and, chosen wisely, can help ensure a stable climate for future generations. You can live more sustainably by reduction your carbon footprint. Small actions can make big contributions toward reductions. Here are a variety of ways you can reduce your carbon footprint today:

Unplug appliances. Plugged in appliances still use energy. Consider using a power strip for devices so you can easily unplug them all at night or before you leave for the day.
Shut down your computer when it’s not in use. Whether it’s a laptop or a desktop, you’ll use much less energy by not keeping your computer running and/or having to charge it so often.
Lower the brightness of your computer screen. Most people keep their computer screen at the maximum level of brightness, though it’s not necessary and uses much more energy.
Use the top shelf of the oven. The top shelf cooks food faster so it’s less time you’ll have to wait and less time the oven has to be in use.
Use CFL or LED bulbs. Compact fluorescent lamp bulbs use 80% less electricity than regular ones and last 15 times longer. If everyone switched to CFL or LED bulbs, our collective energy demands would plummet.
Use cold water. A lot of energy is required to heat water, so when it comes to doing laundry, consider whether or not you really need to wash something in hot water.
Shop local. From clothes and accessories to fruits and vegetables, imported products involve the use of great amounts of energy. Aside from saving energy, buying local goods would help support local businesses.
Shop with a reusable bag. They’re eco-friendly, they don’t break and they won’t wear out your hands. Plus, some stores give you a discount for using them!
Donate or recycle your old clothes. Rather than throwing out clothing you’re ready to part with, donating it or creating something new from it saves the energy and resources that are used to create new clothes.
Get creative with your recycling. If you have something you’re about to toss – consider looking up its reuses before deeming it useless.
Carry less in your vehicle. For any extra weight your vehicle has to carry, whether it is unpacked items hanging out in the trunk or a bike rack, it has to work that much harder which requires more gas. So remove the bike rack or unpack the trunk because it could end up saving you some money at the pump.
Walk, bike, carpool or take public transit. Drive less. Take public transit, walk, bike or car pool.
*Stephanie Bernstein is the Founder and CEO of To-Go Ware

Avoid Waste & Recycle-- Cost: $0.
For every trash can of waste you put outside for the trash collector, about 70 trash cans of waste are used in order to create that trash. To reduce the amount of waste you produce, buy products in returnable and recyclable containers and recycle as much as you can.

Check for Leaks in your Toilet-- Cost: $0, Most of us would be surprised to find out that one in every five toilets leak, and since the leaks are usually silent, you probably have no idea if your toilet is leaking. A leaking toilet can waste anywhere between 30 and 500 gallons of water every day, so any leak should be repaired. To see if your toilet is leaking, put a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the dye shows up in the toilet bowl after 15 minutes or so, the toilet has a leak. Leaking is usually caused by an old or poorly fitting flapper valve, which can be replaced by any amateur DIY-er!