The Maplewood Sustainability Commission handles all sorts of topics, from architectural guidelines to native plants to inclusion and diversity. I presented this summary report to the City Council on February 23, 2021, but in the interest of openness, I wanted to share our accomplishments and goals with the 40 South News readership.
The Sustainability Commission meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 6:00 pm. We currently use Zoom for video conferencing, and connection information is posted before each meeting at https://www.cityofmaplewood.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=486. We would love to have you join.
Library Roof Solar Panels
A member from the Library Board notified us of a leak in the library’s roof and potential roof replacement. We recommended that, as part of the replacement project, the City evaluate the feasibility of installing solar panels, using a light-colored roof material for replacement, and increasing the roof insulation to above the minimum code requirement limits. Upon later inspection of the roof, we learned that the leak was not such that replacement was necessary. We also learned that there was no funding mechanism for a project such as we had recommended; we suggest that the City make it a priority to establish such a mechanism.
EV Charging Station
The Commission would like the City to install a public electric vehicle (EV) charging station at the Marietta parking lot. This would both attract visitors to the Special Business District and help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Adding a solar canopy in conjunction with the charger would further reduce GHG emissions. Ameren typically offers rebates to help defray costs of these installations.
Garage Forward Design
A Commission member gave a presentation about the negative societal impact of garage forward design. Though this style might be popular with suburban developers, replacing front porches with garages prevents spontaneous conversations among neighbors. We recommend Design & Review put community first when considering new development proposals.
The Commission has been spreading the word about the benefits of native plants and stormwater mitigation through rainscaping. Stacy Arnold with the Deer Creek Watershed Alliance educated us about this and a cost-sharing program from the Missouri Botanical Garden for Maplewood landowners. One of our members also participated in Metropolitan Sewer District’s similar grant program. Using native plants instead of exotics in landscaping restores the function of local ecosystems, providing services such as stormwater reduction to save money on infrastructure repairs.
Commission members have made connections with local conservation efforts to address mosquitos in the city. Mosquito dunks seem to be the best option and are available at the hardware store. Bats and purple martins are both effective at removing mosquitos, and houses are available online to encourage both to take up residence. Spraying has been found less effective in recent studies than other methods and is particularly concerning for local beekeepers and chicken farmers; calling St. Louis County to opt out does not seem to work.
The Sustainability Commission recognizes its lack of diversity and supports the Council’s efforts to remedy this. The Commission also recommended that the City recognize the second Monday of October as Indigenous People’s Day. Maplewood is located on land formerly inhabited by the Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Wazhazhe Maⁿzhaⁿ (Osage), Myaamia (Miami), and Očeti Šakówiŋ (Great Sioux Nation).
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program
The Commission worked with Great Rivers Environmental Law Center to draft an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program. Former City Manager Corcoran requested that we wait until a new manager was hired to bring this forward.
Climate Action Plan
The City of St. Louis recently adopted a Climate Action Plan. We suggest Maplewood do the same.
Updating City Building Codes
New building codes have more energy efficient guidelines. We encourage Maplewood to adopt the 2021 IECC (International Energy Conservation Code) when available.
Partnering With The Library
The Commission is looking forward to working with the Library to develop a sustainability series bringing in local experts to talk about topics such as urban biodiversity, composting, financial management, endangered species, household efficiency, and more.
Synching with St. Louis
The City of St. Louis has a Solar Ready program that requires new construction to be “solar ready.” They also have an electric vehicle ordinance for residential buildings stating that new residences have rough-ins for EV charging stations. A benchmarking ordinance for buildings 50,000 sq ft and greater requires energy efficiency benchmarking and buildance performance reporting.
What Would You Like to See?
At every meeting, we have time for public comment. We love to have community members drop in and share their ideas or concerns. We only know what is important to you if you tell us. Please consider joining us as you are able. Also, please consider joining a board. We are all volunteers from the community, just like you. The City maintains a list of openings and application instructions at https://www.cityofmaplewood.com/107/Boards-Commissions.
A great place to learn more about how the City functions in general and ways to get involved is the Citizens’ Academy; more information about Citizens’ Academy is available at https://www.cityofmaplewood.com/667/Citizens-Academy.