Spotlight On: The City of Brentwood

As the Clean Air Partnership continues to spotlight local municipalities utilizing innovative and sustainable approaches to create a cleaner, greener environment for its constituents, we’re pleased to recognize the City of Brentwood.

This participant in the 2020 Green Cities Challenge is addressing sustainability within the range of operational requirements unique to its local government and serves as an inspiration for other communities. Throughout the course of the Challenge, participating municipalities incorporated a sustainability policy and practiced fundamentals, including addressing measures defined by OneSTL, the regional plan for sustainable development. Among the city’s impressive accomplishments to receive recognition in the Challenge was the establishment of a sustainability commission, recycling education, installation of electric vehicle charging stations, launch of a new city-wide sustainability initiative and more.

Other noteworthy innovations included planting 118 trees to help rebuild urban forests. Brentwood worked with Missouri Community Forest Council, Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, Great Rivers Greenway and the Missouri Department of Conservation to connect residents to their urban forest by attaching brightly colored “Trees Work” signs to trees throughout Brentwood. These markings identified the different species and highlighted how each tree is an essential worker in the community and helps to improve air quality. The city also continued work on its woodland restoration project to eradicate invasive exotic plant species that posed a threat to the environment.

Additionally, the City of Brentwood promoted the Grow Solar St. Louis group-buy program, which builds an open and advantageous solar market that provides long-term benefits to communities. To promote energy efficiency and reduce the amount of harmful greenhouse gas emissions, the city completed its sports courts project with upgraded remote-controlled LED lights and replaced all exterior park fixtures with high efficiency LED bulbs. They also installed three solar-powered streetlights and two solar-powered, radar-enabled speed limit signs.

To further reduce environmental impact, Brentwood hosted four residential paper shredding events and electronic recycling drives, and continued to educate residents about proper curbside recycling through social media, newsletters and their website. They also added a water-bottle filling station to City Hall during building renovations and provided Brentwood-branded refillable bottles to all city employees and elected officials to cut down on the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills.

Last but not least, Brentwood Bound – the city’s comprehensive plan to renew the Manchester Road corridor between Brentwood Boulevard and Hanley Road – encompasses three eco-friendly components: Deer Creek Flood Mitigation, Manchester Road Improvements and the Deer Creek Greenway Connector. Together, these projects are helping the city to overcome long-term challenges and enhance the community for decades to comes, all while providing an opportunity for park and recreational spaces to be enjoyed by all Brentwood residents.

For additional information on the sustainable efforts underway by the City of Brentwood and how your organization or municipality can get involved in the Challenge, subscribe to their weekly E-Newsletter or visit www.stlouisgreenchallenge.com. To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, explore our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

Greening Your Spring Travels in the Age of COVID

With the official first day of spring just under a week away and the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines accelerating, it’s tempting to get away for a long-awaited vacation. While spring break is a welcome respite from work and school routines for families, COVID-related concerns still mean precautions are necessary when choosing how and where to travel responsibly as a family this year. Regardless of what your vacation plans entail, it’s also important to keep in mind that traveling can have a negative impact on the environment.

Fortunately, there are a variety of ways for individuals to take action for cleaner air by incorporating sustainable practices into the way that we travel. Here are some helpful tips to consider for safely reducing your transportation footprint this spring to help improve the region’s air quality:

  • Travel Light – Greener travel starts before even leaving the house. The more weight trains, planes, and automobiles have to carry, the more fuel they use, and the more harmful greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. As a result, these emissions have a negative impact on the climate – including worsened air quality – and pose many threats to human health. Though you’re likely to have plenty of extra hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and masks on hand, be conscious of how many extra items overall you are packing to lighten the load and help keep the air quality in healthy ranges.
  • Drive, Don’t Fly – The most pandemic-friendly and eco-friendly option for your spring vacation travels is to drive. If you’re traveling by your own personal vehicle, routine maintenance steps like checking engine performance, keeping tires properly inflated, replacing air filters and changing oil regularly are all ways to help reduce emissions and fuel consumption, saving money at the pump and cleaning the air. Following the speed limit also saves fuel and prevents unnecessary air pollution. Traveling by bus or train are also great options that can offer a certain level of convenience, particularly if the weather and roads are bad along your travel route. Per that latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mandate, don’t forget your mask as they are required by all passengers on public transportation to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus.
  • Make Your Stay a Greener One – One of the safest ways to get away is a vacation home rental, which allows you to be socially distant from other travelers and reduces your risk of contracting or transmitting the virus. Since the number of people staying at the home is limited to your family or small group, vacation rentals are great alternatives to the higher-risk hotels, motels and lodges that have a much larger carbon footprint. With the home-like atmosphere of a vacation rental, guests are also more likely to do things like turn off lights or electronics before leaving a room and keep the thermostat at a reasonable temperature, not just out of environmental thinking but because this is normal behavior in a house and is more convenient.

A few small changes are all it takes to help people all over the St. Louis region stay safe and breathe easier during one of the busiest travel times of the year. For more clean air tips, visit www.cleanair-stlouis.com, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

COVID Related Shutdowns Clearing the Skies Across the St. Louis Region and Cities Abroad

As the novel coronavirus took the world by storm in 2020, governments around the globe imposed travel and business restrictions to help slow the spread of COVID-19, forcing countless workers to turn spare rooms and kitchen tables in their homes into newly adapted office spaces. While there is no silver lining to a deadly pandemic that has upended the lives of millions and claimed the lives of far too many around the world; one outcome from the resulting lockdowns this past year is worthy of note – improved air quality due to a reduction in automobile use and increased telecommuting.

According to a recent article published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, data reveals that nitrogen dioxide – a pollutant linked to car exhaust – fell markedly in the St. Louis metropolitan area during the spring economic shutdown, which also mimicked global trends as individuals sheltered in place and kept their cars off area roads and highways. Preliminary numbers released by the Global Carbon Project indicated that worldwide carbon emissions also fell 7% – the biggest drop in recorded history – as a result of people staying home and traveling less by vehicle or plane. The Associated Press reported that emissions dropped 12% in the United States and 11% in Europe, but only 1.7% in China since they experienced an earlier lockdown with less of a second wave. Additionally, satellite footage has shown veils of pollution lifted above cities such as New York, Boston, Los Angeles and other parts of Asia typically congested with smog.

While it’s long been reported that transportation-related emissions are one of the biggest contributors to air pollution, the dramatic reductions during the pandemic provided a compelling reminder that our commuting choices affect air quality and the health of the region. The Clean Air Partnership is calling attention to the trends observed during 2020 to encourage area residents to remain steadfast in their efforts to take voluntary steps to reduce emissions, including the continuation of eco-friendly actions like telecommuting and giving greater consideration to alternatives to the solo commute as offices open back up.

The region’s public transit system, ridesharing and bike-sharing services are all designed to limit the number of solo commuters on the road and offer great alternatives for the work commute or an option to hopping in your car for short trips. Likewise, combining errands into a single trip, not topping off your gas tank, avoiding vehicle idling or even opting for electric vehicles can also greatly impact the amount of ozone-forming emissions on any given day.

These actions play a critical role in improving air quality conditions and helping people across the region breathe easier, which is especially important for children, older adults and those who suffer from lung diseases. Given that some of those vulnerable populations are the same ones most at risk from COVID-19, these voluntary measures take on additional significance in the current environment.

With the St. Louis region now experiencing a decline in the number of overall COVID-19 cases, people will continue transitioning back to the office as we settle into the warmer months when there’s a greater risk for increased levels of ozone pollution. Lessons learned during the pandemic could translate into more permanent behavior changes that could significantly help to put a dent in one of the largest sources of harmful greenhouse gas emissions and be another step in the right direction for healthy air.

To learn more about the health effects of exposure to air pollution and actions you can take to further reduce emissions, visit our website at www.cleanair-stlouis.com, like the Clean Air Partnership on Facebook or follow @gatewaycleanair on Twitter.

Spotlight On: Ameren Missouri

While many of us are giving thanks to Ameren Missouri for heating our homes as frigid temperatures  settled in the region, you might also be interested to learn about their outstanding commitment to keep pace with future energy needs by implementing green business practices.

A returning participant of the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, Ameren Missouri was recognized as a Challenge Champion for completing work with the Leader scorecard in past years and committing to continued implementation of deeper sustainability strategies. During the 2020 Challenge, Ameren Missouri elected to develop and report on their Champion Innovation Project – Advancing Our Sustainability Initiatives – that focuses on the company’s internal greening efforts and customer-based work.

As part of the St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation, Ameren Missouri has been providing electric and gas service for more than 100 years, powering the quality of life for 1.2 million electric and 130,000 natural gas customers in central and eastern Missouri. The company is proud to serve, support and invest in the communities they call home, and they also value the importance of balancing the needs of our environment, customers and economy. From preventing and controlling pollution, reducing greenhouse gases and creating renewable energy initiatives to developing innovative technologies that help the company operate cleanly, Ameren Missouri is dedicated to building a legacy of environmental stewardship.

Additionally, the company is taking transformative steps towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Last year, the company published its award-winning 2020 Sustainability Report, which is a comprehensive view of action taken on key environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters. Ameren Missouri announced more than 75% of their current coal-fired energy centers will be retired by 2040, with all centers being retired by 2042 to help reduce harmful emissions and improve air quality. While building on their existing carbon free initiatives, they also announced plans to add 3,100 megawatts of new clean, renewable generation by 2030 and a total of 5,400 megawatts by 2040.

Through Ameren Missouri’s CommunitySavers® Program, property owners, community managers and income-eligible customers can receive energy-saving products for their home, along with rebates when they make eligible energy efficient upgrades. In 2020, the program distributed 240,000 LEDs and 1,700 window AC units to income-eligible customers. The company also announced it will invest $240 million through the year 2024 to fund energy efficiency and demand response programs though BizSavers®, Residential and Community Savers® programs.

To further reduce environmental impact, Ameren Missouri updated parking areas with new electric vehicle charging stations, introducing 65 co-worker spaces at their St. Louis Headquarters and 27 spaces at other facility locations to support regional electrification initiatives. Moreover, the company established a Fleet Electrification Goal for 100% of new light-duty vehicle purchases by 2030 to be electric, in addition to setting a goal for 35% of overall vehicle fleet to be electrified by 2030.

The Clean Air Partnership is pleased to recognize the efforts of businesses such as Ameren Missouri that continue to take action for cleaner air by channeling their time and energy towards practicing sustainability. For additional information on how your company can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, subscribe to their weekly E-Newsletter or visit www.stlouisgreenchallenge.com. To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, explore our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

Celebrating a Greener Carnival in the Age of COVID

While St. Louis would normally be gearing up for the crown jewel of the Soulard Mardi Gras season this weekend, those celebrations have a very different look this year. Despite the challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the show must go on – but in a virtual format designed to protect public health and adhere to the latest safety recommendations from federal, state and local officials.

Though revelers from far and wide won’t be gathering in the streets of Soulard for the Grand Parade on Saturday, area residents can still look forward to celebrating this fun treasured tradition in a safe and responsible way, all while appreciating that hosting the event online also benefits air quality and helps people all across the region breathe easier.

Thankfully, St. Louis Mardi Gras organizers are making it easy for community members to participate in the Bud Light Derby Day on Saturday with limited edition “Mardi Gras Safe at Home Party Boxes” available for purchase. The boxes are fully equipped with a food voucher to be redeemed at any participating Soulard establishment, in addition to all the beverages, beads and swag you’ll need to celebrate with a small group of friends or family in the safety and comfort of your own home.

It wouldn’t be a proper Mardi Gras celebration without beads, but these traditional accessories made up of cheap plastic strings and other toxic materials like polystyrene and lead pose an unnecessary threat to the environment, especially when littered on the streets or thrown into trash cans. If you have a growing collection and don’t plan on saving them to use for next year, consider recycling your beads to do your share for cleaner air. Furthermore, setting up separate containers to properly dispose of waste during your at-home celebration – including plastic and non-biodegradable Styrofoam cups, aluminum cans, glass bottles and more – will help improve air quality. The more material that gets properly recycled, the less that goes into landfills, ultimately reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions for cleaner air.

Other upcoming festivities include the virtual pinewood derby-style racing series and the virtual Tito’s Wiener Dog Derby, where everyone’s favorite pint sized pooches will contend for the “fastest hot dog in town” title. These popular events will be streamed via Facebook Live @STLMardiGras on Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. Pet lovers can also tune in to the first-ever virtual Purina Pet Parade Costume Contest on Fat Tuesday, where a panel of celebrity judges will choose the Mardi Paw-ty champion to win $500 cash and (12) $40 coupons good for Purina Pet food products.

We encourage you to incorporate sustainability into your unique Mardi Gras celebrations this year to help fight for cleaner air, because that’s something everyone can celebrate! To learn more about the link between living greener and our air quality, visit our website tips section at http://cleanair-stlouis.com/air-quality-tips/, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

Spotlight On: The City of Alton

For more than a decade, the St. Louis Green Business/Green Cities Challenge has provided local businesses and municipalities with a clear and measurable road map to integrate sustainability measures into their everyday practices. Despite the many unforeseen challenges presented in 2020, the City of Alton continued to create a cleaner, greener environment for its constituents and the Clean Air Partnership is pleased to shine a spotlight on these tremendous efforts making the city a great place to live, work and play.

As a returning participant of the Green Cities Challenge, Alton addressed sustainability within the range of operational requirements unique to their local government. Throughout the course of the Challenge, participating municipalities incorporate a sustainability policy and practice fundamentals, including addressing measures defined by OneSTL, the regional plan for sustainable development. Among the city’s impressive accomplishments to receive recognition in the Challenge are work by their Climate Protection Energy Efficiency Committee, improved recycling, promotion of solar panel placement and the Cool Cities Committee continuing to make the city more livable through sustainability.

Other exciting initiatives included a Riverbend Trash Tag Challenge, which was sponsored by Alton Mainstreet to encourage trash pickup during the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the community were urged to walk around their Alton neighborhood, favorite nature routes, and/or a littered area around town – all while practicing safe social distancing – and pick up any trash they saw along the way. The person who collected the greatest amount of trash and filled the most bags received a $100 gift card to any downtown restaurant, which not only benefited the environment but also supported local businesses.

To further reduce environmental impact, the city placed recycling bins throughout central areas of downtown to increase recycling efforts and make it accessible for all residents. Additionally, the City of Alton updated its Solar Panel Ordinance to simplify the permitting process and is currently working on a Solar Farm Proposal for the closed Alton landfill. This proposal would make good use of lost space and create new job opportunities within the clean energy workforce.

The future continues to look bright for Alton as the Public Works department recently installed energy efficiency lighting in their public building to cut down on energy costs and help improve air quality. The city also completed a Great Streets initiative to create places that improve the atmosphere of the downtown corridor, providing an attractive and refreshing environment by working with natural systems. This initiative will address environmental concerns about planting maintenance, air pollution and more to help reduce the amount of harmful waste and overall energy consumption.

Registration for the 2021 St. Louis Green Business Challenge opens on Feb. 15. For additional information on the sustainable efforts underway by the City of Alton and how your organization or municipality can get involved in the Challenge, subscribe to the weekly E-Newsletter or visit www.stlouisgreenchallenge.com. To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, explore our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

Celebrating Eleven Years of Making Green Work for St. Louis Businesses

Despite the many unprecedented challenges presented in 2020 due to the novel coronavirus, the St. Louis Green Business Challenge remained a leader of sustainability in the St. Louis region by continuing to deliver Triple Bottom Line results (fiscal, social and environmental) to businesses of all types and sizes across the bi-state area. Like the Clean Air Partnership, the Challenge is focused on encouraging and inspiring voluntary steps to help improve the environment and air quality in the region, and we’re pleased to highlight its tremendous impact by recognizing some of the impressive green innovations underway by several local organizations during this extraordinary year.

The Challenge is a program of the Missouri Botanical Garden and supports integration of sustainability measures into the kinds of everyday operational practices common to every business. As part of the program, participants identify and adopt strategies that improve financial performance and engage employees in voluntary measures to reduce environmental impacts. Since the program launched in 2010, 245 businesses, non-profits and municipalities have joined the Challenge. This participation has engaged over 155,000 employees and nearly 470,000 residents with ongoing sustainability commitment strong as ever, as 60% of these companies have participated in the challenge for two or more years and 45% for three years or more.

In 2020, 50 companies, non-profits, institutions and governmental bodies participated in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge. An astounding one hundred percent of these participants formed a Green Team to lead sustainability efforts, established a Sustainability Policy or Sustainability Guidelines, kept up sustainability communications with colleagues or constituents, and either started or maintained workplace recycling, even during remote working.

Prior to COVID-19 shutdowns, the Challenge’s kickoff seminar for their 11th season featured a resource fair that engaged 81 attendees with the green products and services of 16 Challenge companies. In the weeks following, COVID-19 would prompt a Challenge program shift from monthly in-person seminars to 32 weekly Virtual Brown Bag sessions, which showcased the work of 38 companies, Green Cities and community partners. All archived online, these half-hour virtual seminars included descriptions and related links for efficient sharing by Green Teams to their colleagues and constituents.

Over the course of the year, Challenge companies benefited from customized coaching and ongoing phone and email support provided by expert staff of the EarthWays Center, the Missouri Botanical Garden’s sustainability division. These services supported Challenge participants in evaluating and implementing sustainability options in ways that optimized outcomes, cost effectiveness and engagement, in alignment with each company’s goals and culture.

While in years past the Challenge reviewed submitted scorecards and tallied points at the completion of each program year to determine the overall winners, COVID-19 workarounds limited scorecard use this past season. Nevertheless, Green Teams across the program rose to the challenge of continuing to grow sustainable practices and 2020 participants all received the same award honoring commitment, persistence and resourceful action, in both routine operations and innovative projects. We’ll be profiling several of these standouts in the coming year so you can learn more.

Challenge 2021 registration opens on February 15. For more information on how to get your company or municipality involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge/Green Cities Challenge, contact program manager Jean Ponzi at jean.ponzi@mobot.org or subscribe to the Challenge’s weekly E-newsletter here. To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, be sure to check out our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

New Year, New Resolutions to Do Your Share for Cleaner Air

While every year we look at January 1 as a symbol of a fresh start and a chance to have our “best year yet”, this mindset feels more important than ever before as we move into 2021. Even though many of the challenges presented in 2020 have rolled over into the new year as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, now is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past year and look at the things we can control as we determine what changes to make to improve ourselves and our communities going forward.

Making the choice to go green in the new year and resolving to adopt some eco-friendly actions can result in multiple positive changes to your wallet, your health and the region’s air quality. By adopting just one of many green lifestyle changes and incorporating sustainability into your daily routine, you can have a significant impact on helping people all over the St. Louis region breathe easier in 2021. Here are a few simple tips to consider for greening your New Year’s resolutions :

  • Walk, Bike or Take Public Transit – Since transportation-related emissions have always been one of the biggest contributors to air pollution, the choices people make on how to get around considerably affect air quality and the health of the region. Actions like walking and biking instead of using a vehicle for short trips or taking public transportation are all great ways to reduce harmful auto emissions to help keep the air quality in healthy ranges.
  • Green Your Home – When your appliances have reached the end of their useful lives, opt for new ones that are Energy Star® rated to maximize efficiency. Switching out incandescent light bulbs with LEDs, putting timers on lights and investing in smart power strips will also help to eliminate unnecessary electricity use. While reducing and reusing are the most effective ways to save money and natural resources, recycling is another vital piece of greening your home by helping to keep waste out of landfills and turning glass, paper, plastic and other items into new materials. Set up separate recycling bins in your home so it’s easy for all family members to participate and consider purchasing recycled products to help clean the air.
  • Think Globally, Buy Locally – Locally grown food offers countless benefits and also helps to reduce environmental impact. Imported food is often shipped hundreds and sometimes even thousands of miles to arrive at the supermarket. The greater distance the food has to travel, the more fossil fuels are consumed. Buying local produce reduces the amount of travel time for big transport trucks, ultimately improving the air quality by cutting back on air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Go Paperless When Possible – Because we live in a digital world, there are many places where you can opt out of paper — whether it’s your credit card bill or receipts at your favorite store. If given the option, sign up for online banking or choose email versions of receipts when shopping. If your job requires you to use paper, encourage co-workers to print on both sides of a sheet or use the back side of old documents for scrap paper or drafts to further reduce waste. Cutting back on your paper consumption not only helps save trees, but also cuts back on air pollution and water consumption associated with producing and transporting paper.

For more great tips on how we can all work together to achieve cleaner air in 2021, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair. Have a happy and healthy New Year!

Celebrate Sustainably This Holiday Season to Reduce Environmental Impact

Like nearly everything else in 2020, holiday festivities this year have been anything but ordinary. However, one thing that remains the same is the season of giving continues to be a time of excess, which can wreak havoc on air quality and the environment.

From all the wrapping paper, plastic packaging, cardboard shipping boxes and various other holiday trash, a million extra tons of garbage will be added to the landfill in the coming weeks. But thankfully, there are several ways to combat unnecessary waste and help keep the holiday spirit alive, even in the midst of a global pandemic. Here are some insightful tips to keep in mind for incorporating sustainability into those treasured holiday traditions:

  • Choose Your Tree Wisely – While it’s not the most traditional option, buying an artificial tree that can be used for years to come is an energy efficient choice. If this option is unalluring and you choose to buy a real tree – assuming you can still find one given the shortage this year – opt for a living one that can be planted outside or kept as a houseplant after the holidays. If you don’t choose artificial or a tree to plant in your yard, once the holidays wrap up, dispose of your tree at a chipping facility or look for holiday tree composting drop-off locations in your neighborhood to do your share for cleaner air.
  • Decorate with LED Lights – Traditional incandescent strands use approximately 80% more energy and are far less reliable than their LED counterparts. While LEDs may be a little more expensive, they last up to 10 times longer and will ultimately save you money on your electric bill, too. Rather than keeping your house lit up 24/7, also consider connecting lights to a timer so that they only turn on during certain evening hours to further conserve energy.
  • Green Your Holiday Dinner Table – Though you may only be hosting a holiday feast for your immediate family members this year, sourcing as many of your ingredients as possible locally helps to cut down on emissions produced by large transport trucks. The less your produce and supplies have to travel, the less waste is produced, and the smaller the environmental impact. Likewise, consider swapping out disposable plates, cups, napkins and silverware for your favorite set of dishes this year instead to take green dining one step further.
  • Gift Greener – If you still have some last-minute shopping to do, consider gifting an experience to loved ones to reduce excess waste and help improve air quality. Additionally, buying gifts from local businesses that follow social and environmental practices or supporting local artists, craftspeople or farmers will largely benefit the region’s air quality. Newspapers, old posters, maps, reusable gift bags or scrap fabric lying around the house also make for beautiful, personal, and unique gift wraps. If you choose to buy gift wrap, look for recycled content gift wrap paper whenever you can find it.

Adding “green” into not only your decorations but also your celebrations this holiday season can make all the difference in helping people across the St. Louis region breathe easier. To learn more about the link between living greener and our air quality, visit the tips section of our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

Spotlight On: The City of Wildwood

Like the Clean Air Partnership, the City of Wildwood focuses on quality of life based upon careful stewardship of the natural environment and ensures that this legacy is passed on to future generations. This is a result of planned, responsible, sustainable growth through citizen and business partnerships that respect the natural qualities of the land and air quality in the region. Wildwood’s commitment to its residents remains unchanged, as does its philosophy of service and planning tomorrow today.

As one of the largest municipalities in Missouri and St. Louis County, in both population and land mass, Wildwood has shown that it’s possible to develop businesses and build homes while protecting the beauty and space of its land. The city has further solidified its commitment to incorporating sustainability measures into their everyday operational practices as an active participant of the St. Louis Green Cities Challenge, a program of the Missouri Botanical Garden that delivers triple bottom line results (financial, social and environmental) to municipalities across the St. Louis region. In 2019, Wildwood was recognized with the Award of Achievement for working with a menu of fundamental sustainability policy and action options geared toward greening municipal business operations, including various resources to educate and engage residents.

Over the course of the Challenge, Wildwood installed a 150-plot community garden on City Hall grounds and created a Parks and Rec App that connects residents to city and state parks and conservation areas within the city. Users are granted access to trail maps, pavilion rental, events and recreation programs with registration of the app. A Wildwood Trail Guide was also developed to connect residents with city parks and trails, as well as to businesses in the Town Center. Additionally, the city replaced 92 ash trees with tree species native to Missouri to eliminate the threat of emerald ash borers, which are invasive jewel beetles responsible for the destruction of tens of millions of ash trees across the country.

To further reduce environmental impact, the city began gathering data for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Better Buildings Through Benchmarking program to measure the efficiency of City Hall, which was LEED Certified in 2013. Through a grant from the Missouri Department of Conservation, the city also filled tree wells along Taylor Road with structural soil when new trees were planted. This helped reduce compaction and allowed for increased root growth for healthier street trees, which also positively impacts the region’s air quality!

For additional information about the ongoing sustainable efforts by the City of Wildwood and how your municipality can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge/Green Cities Challenge, subscribe to the bi-monthly E-Newsletter or visit www.stlouisgreenchallenge.com. To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, explore our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.