Climate & Air

Air is an invisible but invaluable resource. The City of St. Louis has launched several initiatives to protect air quality and reduce harmful emissions caused by building energy consumption and fossil-fueled vehicles. Emissions reductions bring a number of benefits, such as lower energy costs and better human health.

Mayors Committed Badge

Climate and Energy Efficiency

On November 13, 2015, Mayor Slay signed the Compact of Mayors and pledged to gather greenhouse gas (GHG) data, set targets, identify climate hazards, assess climate risks and vulnerabilities, and develop a climate action plan to address mitigation, as well as climate adaptation plan. The effort is a multi-year commitment that is tracked in phases. The City of St. Louis has earned the first Compact of Mayors badge of completion: Committed. 

Through ARRA stimulus funding, the City of St. Louis received $3.7 million in 2009 from the federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program (EECBG) to use for a number of  energy efficiency activities between 2010-2013. These activities promote sustainability in the City, working toward three primary goals:

  • Reduce City government's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy consumption
  • Reduce GHG emissions due to activites of City residents and businesses
  • Reduce GHG emissions in the transportation sector

Government Reductions

With its EECBG funds, the City conducted seven comprehensive energy audits of municipal buildings. Substantial retrofits were conducted at City Hall and Carnahan Courthouse with EECBG funds, too. The City also piloted the use of 3 types of energy efficient street light upgrades to determine which are the most reliable, efficient, and cost effective for future use.

Citizen Reductions

EECBG funds were used to reduce energy consumption of City residents and businesses. In conjuction with Ameren and Americorps, more than 100,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs were distributed to more than 25,000 City households. The City also launched Set The PACE St. Louis, an innovative financing technique to promote energy efficient improvements on private commercial properties. 

Transportation Reductions

The City also used some of its EECBG funds to reduce energy consumption in the transportation sector by promoting alternatives to fossil-fueled vehicle use by adding bike racks, bike lanes, and creating the Downtown Bicycle Station -- the region's first public commuter bike station.

City CFL Distribution

CFL Light Distribution

The City of St Louis partnered with Ameren Missouri and Americorps to distribute more than 100,000 Compact Flourescent Light (CFL) Bulbs to more than 25,000 households in the City. These bulbs are 75% more energy efficient and last up to ten times longer. This initiative minimizes energy consumption, helps residents save on their utility bills and helps keep energy emissions out of the environment. The CFL bulbs were packaged with literature explaining the benefits and proper use of CFLs. Thus, the initiative also helps raise awareness about the city’s carbon footprint and educates citizens about environmentally-responsible actions they can institute at home.

Between 2002 and 2005, the City also converted 16,000 traffic signals to LED light technology resulting in cost and energy savings.

Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Climate Action Planning

The City of St. Louis recently completed its 2015 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory. A GHG emissions inventory is an assessment of the GHG emissions associated with energy consumption for government operations and community sources, leaked refrigerants, fire suppressants, generation from biogenic processes (landfills, wastewater) and other chemical and biological processes. The gases being measured include Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous Oxide (N2O), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6). 

The GHG emissions inventory is important  because you cannot effectively reduce what you don't measure. Data is used to establish a baseline of information, and then to inform the development and tracking of atmospheric models, strategies, and policies for emissions reductions. The City is using the year 2005 for its baseline because that is the year Mayor Slay signed the US Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. The GHG emissions inventory is also important because it helps build the context for meaningful sustainability initiatives and identify areas of improvement.

Pie and trend chart for 2015 community greenhouse gas emissions.

Alternative Transportation

Anti-Idling Ordinance

In 2008, St. Louis City passed an Anti-Idling Ordinance that prohibits vehicle idling for longer than five minutes (10 minutes when temperatures dip below freezing). An idling engine emits harmful tailpipe exhaust in a very concentrated area, exposing anyone nearby to air pollutants thought to be a cause of asthma and other health problems. Avoiding idling is likely to reduce emissions and improve health and air quality. Please reference this brochure for more information about the benefits of reducing idling and the restrictions on idling in the St. Louis area.

Complete Streets Ordinance

In June 2010, Mayor Francis Slay signed the Complete Streets bill into law, encouraging transportation planners and engineers to keep walkers, cyclists and public transit users in mind, not just drivers. In 2015, Mayor Slay signed a more robust Complete Streets ordinance. "Complete streets" are those that are specifically designed to safely accommodate multiple modes of transportation. They have been shown to help reduce reliance on cars, stimulate economy, reduce harmful emissions and promote healthier living.

Downtown Bicycle Station Logo

Cycling Initiative

Through its cycling initiative, the City of St. Louis has embraced alternative means of transportation (such as walking or biking) as healthy and environmentally-friendly ways of getting around. In 2010, Bicycling Magazine ranked St. Louis as America's 38th most bike-friendly city. The City is a regional leader in cycling facilities, and is adding bike lanes and racks in partnership with Great Rivers Greenway District and the Bike St. Louis master plan. St. Louis was deemed a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. Through the efforts of both city government and non-profit organizations, a number of initiatives now promote alternative transportation in the City.

St. Louis Downtown Bicycle Station

The City partners with local non-profit organizations such as Great Rivers Greenway and Trailnet to make alternative transportation more viable and prevalent. Together with the City of St. Louis, these groups created a Commuter Bicycle Station in downtown St. Louis. The Downtown Bicycle Station will be 1,430 square feet, offer secure access and feature more than 100 bike racks, showers, and lockers ideal for cyclists commuting to work. Such collaborative projects helped St. Louis win an All American City award in 2008.

Open Streets

Also in 2010, the City partnered with corporate sponsors to launch Open Streets, an event that opens normally-busy roads to runners, walkers, cyclists and roller skaters of all ages. Taking place on four weekend days spread throughout the year, each Open Steets event features a different route and free stations for activities such as yoga, rock-climbing and children's activities. Open Streets encourages non-vehicular recreation and community interaction.

Fleet Management


In order to reduce fuel use and vehicle emissions, the City of St. Louis has installed telematics systems (a combination of computer and communications technologies, like GPS) in more than 260 of its service vehicles. These vehicles serve multiple divisions, such as Facilities Management, Forestry, Refuse, Towing, Traffic and Equipment Services. Telematics systems track all aspects of a vehicle's operation; they allow city managers to identify more efficient driving routes and to ensure operators' compliance with work rules, safety regulations and traffic laws. Since installation began in 2007, the technology has encouraged safer, more fuel-efficient driving and enabled more efficient routing, 6-14% lower fuel costs, reduced idling, reduced engine wear and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. These improvements stem not from the systems themselves, but from city managers' prudent use of the information they provide.

Diesel Retrofit

Diesel Retrofits

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has partnered with the Grace Hill Clean Air Program to retrofit five trucks from five different trucking fleets with diesel emission reduction technology as a pilot program. Studies have shown that these devices (diesel oxidation catalysts and diesel particulate filters) can reduce fuel usage and emissions by up to 40%, contributing to improved City air quality and fewer health problems associated with air pollution.  

Learn more about City Fleet and Sustainability

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