City of Clayton Demonstrates How Municipalities Can Go Green

Article courtesy of the St. Louis Regional Clean Air Partnership

Nationwide, as communities look for ways to reduce their environmental footprint, the City of Clayton is serving as a model for municipalities in the St. Louis region.

Clayton’s efforts to go green began in 1997 when the city established its Ecology and Environmental Awareness Committee (EEAC), a group of residents tasked with advising the mayor, alderman and city manager on the development and support of ecologically sound programs and practices. Today, the committee follows a blueprint for action that includes the incorporation of green building into city facilities, the establishment and promotion of recycling programs, and efforts to reduce traffic congestion and purchase green products. This blueprint can be directly attributed to the leadership of Clayton’s Mayor, Linda Goldstein.

In 1998, Goldstein was elected as alderman and was appointed as a liaison to the EEAC. At that time, the committee had been successful in establishing a recycling program, but Goldstein had more lofty goals in mind.

“I felt there was much more the city could be doing, so I called on two of my fellow environmental advocates to get their input on how to maximize the city’s green efforts,” said Mayor Goldstein.

Working alongside Deb Frank, the current vice president for sustainability at the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Jean Ponzi, the Garden’s current green resources manager, Goldstein and her colleagues developed an environmental road map that has transformed the city into the green model it is today.

Its sustainable accomplishments include being one of 33 cities in the U.S. to be designated as an EPA Green Power Community. Through the Green Power initiative, local government, businesses and residents collectively purchase green power in an effort to conserve energy. To further reduce energy use, Clayton’s Public Works Department changed all traffic signal lights to LED fixtures in 2008, and all city-owned buildings use an energy-efficient pulse heating system.

In 2006, Clayton adopted an ordinance that requires all new construction and major renovation projects that are 5,000 square feet or greater and are owned, occupied or funded by the city to be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council at the LEED Silver level or higher. While Clayton’s police station already complies with this ordinance, this summer, the largest solar array in the Midwest will be in place on the roof of the building. The new addition should increase its certification to an even higher LEED level.

As the city works to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality, efforts to encourage residents to utilize alternative transportation modes remain a priority. Clayton was one of the first cities in the region to participate in Metro’s Transit Benefit Program, through which the city subsidizes the cost of MetroLink and MetroBus passes for its employees. In recent months, city officials have also discussed making rental bikes available at area Metro stations and installing additional bike racks to make biking a more viable transportation option.

To reduce vehicle emissions, 79 percent of Clayton’s city fleet vehicles use alternative fuels, such as biodiesel, and most are hybrids. Additional efforts underway to improve the environmental quality of the city’s municipal operations include a joint purchasing contract area for recycled paper; the use of green cleaning supplies, double-sided copies and nightly computer shutdown policies; city facility energy audits; construction material recycling in capital improvement projects, and paper and waste reduction efforts in city buildings.

“It’s truly exciting to see all that our city has been able to accomplish thus far, and we look forward to expanding our environmental initiatives in the years to come,” said Goldstein. “There are a wealth of steps municipalities can take to go green, and we hope our sustainable efforts can serve as a model for other cities across the St. Louis area.”
Cities or individuals interested in learning more about Clayton’s environmental efforts are encouraged to visit http://www.claytonmo.gov/resident /sustainability/clayton_operations.

For information on ways you can do your share for cleaner air, visit www.cleanair-stlouis.com.