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Health, Science, Environment

Metro East Communities Are Beginning To Take Stock Of Their Greenhouse Gas Emissions

 The City of Collinsville is conducting a greenhouse gas inventory, which will breakdown the carbon dioxide emissions from city facility and operations as well as the community at large. The inventory will be presented to the city council and published on the city's website in September.
File Photo / Eric Schmid
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St. Louis Public Radio
The City of Collinsville is conducting a greenhouse gas inventory, which will break down the carbon dioxide emissions from city facility and operations as well as the community at large. The inventory will be presented to the city council and published on the city's website in September.

COLLINSVILLE — City leaders are taking a significant step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the community by cataloging how much carbon dioxide the city emits in a single year.

The process, known as a greenhouse gas inventory, will document the emissions from the local Collinsville government and the community at large, said Deputy City Manager Derek Jackson.

“We’ll know where we stand as far as city facilities and what we can do to make those better,” he said. “For the community, our hope is to get that information out there and encourage businesses, school districts and residences to do their part and lower the carbon emissions coming out of their day-to-day lives.”

The inventory will provide a detailed breakdown of emissions from residential, commercial and industrial properties, as well as transportation, solid waste and wastewater emissions. The full report and data will be presented to the city council in September and published on the city’s website, Jackson said.

Collinsville isn’t the first city in the Metro East to take stock of its emissions in this way. Granite City performed a similar assessment in 2020 with help from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

Jackson said the neighboring community’s success working with SIUE inspired Collinsville leaders to pursue a similar arrangement in late 2020.

“Before we knew it, we had an agreement in place and were launching our own greenhouse gas inventory,” he said.

In Collinsville’s case, SIUE matched the city with Waleska Valle, an environmental science graduate student who’s collecting and analyzing the data for the inventory.

“We’re actually using data from 2019,” Valle said. “Last year, because of the pandemic, it wouldn’t be worth it to use that data. It does not represent the gas emissions for the city.”

The first report will serve as a benchmark for the city as it adopts more initiatives and projects to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from specific sources, she said.

“In two or three years, we can go back and do a greenhouse gas inventory again and see how much we improve,” Valle said.

That’s exactly what Collinsville leaders plan to do in the next few years, Jackson said. The initial greenhouse gas inventory will also help city officials decide which emission reducing projects to take on first, he added.

“The goal here is to add sustainable projects into the capital improvement plan for 2022,” Jackson said. “That includes potentially adding solar panels on rooftops for city-owned buildings, greening our fleet through electric vehicles as well as charging stations around the city.”

City officials wanted to marry the metrics from a greenhouse gas inventory to the city’s capital improvement plan to ensure taxes from residents are being used for environmental change, he said.

Beyond this year’s inventory, Collinsville will take larger steps to become greener, such as developing a climate action plan next year, which will establish specific emission reduction targets for the city, Jackson said.

He hopes the city can help lead a county-wide greenhouse gas inventory and help develop larger- scale emissions reductions.

Eric Schmid covers the Metro East for St. Louis Public Radio as part of the journalism grant program: Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.

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