Spotlight On: Forest Park Forever and World Wide Technology

As the Clean Air Partnership works to inspire area residents and businesses to take voluntary steps to help clear the air, we continue to recognize the ongoing efforts and initiatives of participants in the 2018 St. Louis Green Business Challenge (GBC). These organizations are committed to cleaning our region’s air and achieving their goals while keeping a focus on sustainability. This month, we are shining a spotlight on Forest Park Forever and World Wide Technology. Both companies worked hard to achieve the Leader Level Award of Merit and Achievement Award in the Star Circle of Excellence in last year’s challenge and continue to make clean air a priority throughout their business practices.

A private nonprofit conservancy, Forest Park Forever has spent the past 33 years partnering with the City of St. Louis and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry to restore, maintain and sustain Forest Park. In doing so, they have raised $100 million to restore several landmarks such as the Emerson Grand Basin, the Boathouse and the Jewel Box. Along with the preservation of the park, they also provide information and guides for its 13 million annual visitors, as well as an array of educational opportunities for all ages.

With the help of student volunteers, the nonprofit has successfully been able to catalog and track the park’s 273 organisms and also expand its conservation efforts. And, when it comes to their commitment to clean air, Forest Park Forever has led additional efforts throughout the past year, including a plan to introduce their first electric utility vehicle to reduce the park’s carbon footprint.

Since its founding in 1990, World Wide Technology has become a leader in the technology industry, generating more than $11 billion in annual revenue. With its global headquarters located right here in St. Louis, the company is a proud fourth-year participant in the GBC.

In 2018, World Wide Technology made giant strides in its sustainability efforts. Among these are the MoDOT Adopt-A-Highway Area Beautification Program, the Electronic Waste Drive and the Collection and Recycling of Plastic Lids & Caps for the Buddy Bench Program. The company has also implemented several programs and green business practices, such as a composting program and a water bottle refilling station, which has eliminated approximately 382,470 plastic water bottles from the company’s waste since they were installed! By the end of last year, the company resolved to replace most, if not all, non-recyclable paper cups.

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. For more information on the ongoing sustainable efforts by Forest Park Forever and World Wide Technology, and how your company can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, visit http://stlouisgreenchallenge.com.

Making Halloween Less Scary for the Environment

The spookiest time of the year is nearly here, but the real fright-fest of Halloween aren’t the ghouls and goblins, but rather its negative impact on the environment. According to a recent study by the National Retail Foundation, Americans are spending a scary amount of money on the fan-favorite holiday, with an estimated $8.8 billion expected to spirit away from consumers’ bank accounts this year alone.

Whether you’re deciding on costumes, buying candy, zipping between costume parties or hosting your own, there are a variety of ways to make your Halloween celebrations a little less frightening for the environment and to continue applying these strategies to the way you live every day. Here are some helpful tips to consider for turning your Halloween into “Hallow-green.”

  • DIY Costumes – You’ll want to avoid buying store-bought costumes that are often made up of nonrecyclable, petro-chemical based plastic and synthetic fibers that release harmful toxins in their creation and breakdown. With a little creativity, boxes, paper bags, plastic water bottles and items around the house can be upcycled into costumes at little or no cost. If you’re looking for inspiration, be sure to check out Pinterest for countless ideas for turning different materials into homemade costumes. Going for a greener option this Halloween will ultimately help to improve the air quality.
  • Host a Green Halloween Party – Consider sending out electronic invites to your Spooktacular event instead of paper to help keep the air clean by saving time, postage and trees. When shopping for supplies, look for recyclable or compostable plates, cups and utensils rather than the kind that end up in the trash, and put out recycling bins for any bottles and cans. Take your party to the next level by turning out the lights and lighting some candles – it’ll save energy and add to the spooky atmosphere!
  • Green Up Your Halloween Pumpkins – Don’t let your jack-o’-lantern end up in a landfill once Halloween is over. Remember to compost your pumpkins to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions that result from rotting in landfills. Once you’ve carved your pumpkin, save the pulp from inside for pies, muffins, soup and other tasty recipes, as well as the seeds that make for a great fall snack when roasted with a little oil and salt!
  • Hit the Streets for Trick or Treat – Rather than drive to other neighborhoods to take the kids trick-or-treating, stick close to home this Halloween and walk from house to house to reduce fuel consumption and air pollution. If traveling by car is really the only way to join in the Halloween fun with your family or friends, try carpooling to do your share for cleaner air.

Do your part by making sustainable choices this Halloween and continue to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle to help people all across St. Louis breathe easier every day, not just on special occasions. 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: St. Louis College of Pharmacy and COCA

With fall in full swing and the threat of a Red or Orange air quality day behind us for a while, the importance of taking action to help keep the air clean may not be top of mind. But we think it should be something people focus on year-round. With that in mind, we’re continuing to recognize businesses and organizations that have gone to measurable lengths to engage employees in voluntary measures to reduce environmental impact through their participation in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge (GBC). This month, we shine a spotlight on St. Louis College of Pharmacy and COCA for their sustainable innovations and efforts to make environmentally conscious practices a focal point in their communities and help clean our air in the process.

St. Louis College of Pharmacy (STLCOP) has been preparing students for expert practice and leadership in pharmacy and health professions careers for over 150 years. As current and future health professionals, faculty and students at STLCOP know the importance of healthy living and how environmental practices directly relate. Thus, the group has been an active participant in the GBC and received the Achievement Award in the Star Circle of Excellence and an Award of Merit at the Leader Level in 2018.

STLCOP students created an organization – Sustainable STLCOP – that leads the campus in green initiatives. Sustainable STLCOP successfully held one large paper-recycling event on campus and continues to work towards raising their paper recycling efforts each month. Another notable initiative at STLCOP includes new copier programming aimed at reducing on-campus printing by 22 percent. The College has also seen a nearly 40% reduction in off-site printing costs since the implementation of the programming on July 1, 2018, showing that greener choices can be as good for the balance sheet as they are for the environment.

To raise awareness for these initiatives, STLCOP has created their own Green Team to engage students, faculty, staff and alumni in creating a sustainably-minded campus community that focuses on environmentally friendly living in their day-to-day lives.

Another GBC finalist in the “Leader” track is COCA, a nonprofit whose arts-based events, training, and programming encourages people to see, think and express themselves in new ways. As the fourth largest multidisciplinary community arts center in the country, the organization annually serves more than 50,000 people of all ages, backgrounds and ability levels.

COCA is committed to doing its part to make St. Louis a great place to work and live, which means caring for the environment for future generations. The nonprofit has taken many steps to preserve energy, recycle, reduce waste, and go green, striving to continually take action to reduce their eco-footprint and remain attentive and thoughtful about how they use their space in an environmentally responsible way.

As part of recent renovations, COCA converted nearly 200 lights from incandescent to LED. Now, approximately 47% of all COCA’s interior light fixtures are LED. During the renovation, all appliances in COCA’s kitchen were replaced with new ENERGY STAR high efficiency models, and its kitchen and hospitality stations have been equipped with reusable dishware and utensils to discourage the use of disposable versions of these items. In effort to help improve indoor air quality, air purifying plants were also added in communal spaces, including meeting rooms, lobbies and offices!

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. For additional information on the sustainable efforts underway by St. Louis College of Pharmacy and COCA, as well as how your company can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, visit http://stlouisgreenchallenge.com/.

Turn Your Key and Be Idle-Free for Back to School Season

Now that cooler fall temperatures have made their way to the region, you may be faced with the temptation to idle your vehicle more than usual, particularly with the kids settled back in school and part of your day spent back in the carpool line. While it may seem impossible for drivers to avoid this altogether, vehicle idling by buses, students, parents, teachers, staff and delivery vehicles creates unnecessary pollution at schools. It’s especially important to remember to “turn the key” and “be idle-free” at schools because children are more susceptible to air pollution as their lungs are still developing, making them more vulnerable to the impacts of vehicle pollution than other populations.

Each year, idling engines produce thousands of tons of toxic pollution, including air toxins which are known to cause cancer, respiratory and reproductive effects, birth defects and various other health concerns. Exposure to car exhaust can also aggravate asthma symptoms. With asthma ranking as the most common chronic illness among children and the cause of most school absences, vehicle idling poses a serious threat to young lungs everywhere.

You might also be surprised to learn that:

  • Idling for longer than 10 seconds uses more fuel than restarting your engine.
  • Two minutes of idling uses that same amount of fuel as driving one mile.
  • Most people waste as much as 1-2 tanks of gas every year by idling.
  • Idling vehicles emit 20 times more pollution than a car traveling at 30 mph.
  • Every gallon of gas wasted produces over 20 pounds of air pollution.
  • Many buildings have fresh air intake systems to pull outdoor air into the indoor environment. If vehicles are idling alongside or near the building, indoor air can become polluted with exhaust.

In an effort to curb the amount of vehicle idling in the St. Louis metropolitan region, the Clean Air Partnership has created a campaign designed to help encourage area businesses, schools, governmental entities and other organizations to implement no-idling policies and post no-idling signs, demonstrating their commitment to helping our community be idle-free.

If you represent a business, government entity, school or other organization, consider engaging your constituents in making the pledge to “Turn Your Key and Be Idle-Free” by placing no-idling signs in your parking lots, near bus and carpool lanes, passenger drop-off lanes, delivery areas or any other location where idling is an issue. By working together, we can help eliminate unnecessary idling in the St. Louis area and help the region breathe easier!

To request a no-idling sign, contact Susannah Fuchs of the Clean Air Partnership at 314-449-9149, or via email at Susannah.Fuchs@lung.org. For more information on other anti-idling initiatives and additional steps you can take to help improve air quality, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @gatewaycleanair.

 

Spotlight On: Tarlton Corporation

The Clean Air Partnership has spent the summer recognizing the efforts and initiatives of local entities that captured the highest total points in the “Champion” track of the St. Louis Green Business Challenge (GBC) this past year. This fall, we are turning our attention to those who scored highest in the GBC’s “Leaders” track, by kicking off our spotlight series with a feature on Tarlton Corporation for their many sustainable innovations and dedication to making the region a better place to live, work and play.

Tarlton Corporation is a St. Louis-based general contracting and construction management firm committed to building futures for their clients, team and community. Since 1946, the firm has completed numerous landmark projects in and around the area, continuing to improve its sustainability efforts by always looking for new ways to be green in all their business operations.

Tarlton is a proud participant of the GBC, along with other organizations that promote sustainable construction and business operations in the region. In 2018, the company received the Achievement Award in the Star Circle of Excellence and an Award of Merit at the Leader Level. To achieve this award, businesses must advance their sustainability efforts and finish the challenge with a leading score.

Multiple accomplishments in sustainability helped Tarlton Corporation place high in the Challenge. Their office building is especially eco-friendly with a rooftop solar array, water bottle filling stations, landscaping with native plants and rain cisterns to collect water. The company also executed a change out of all light fixtures to either LEDs or CFLs, helping to reduce energy usage by almost 40%. In addition, Tarlton has completed more than a dozen Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified projects.

To lead the corporation in sustainability initiatives, Tarlton has a Green Team, which is a committee dedicated to helping find ways to be environmentally conscious and responsible at work and home. They encourage the staff to help at regional green events and host Lunch ‘n Learns that educate employees on how to be energy efficient outside of the workplace.

Furthermore, the company installed a “Make a Difference” board, which is a central hub of information about all Tarlton’s green initiatives, with bins for collecting items like plastic bottle lids, can tabs, rechargeable batteries and box tops for education. The board has a calendar of all upcoming green events and photos of what they have taken part in. Employees at Tarlton also implemented a Grocery Bag Exchange Program, where team members receive a reusable bag for every 50 plastic bags they turn in. In total, the team has collected over 5,000 plastic bags!

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. For additional information on the sustainable efforts underway by Tarlton Corporation and how your company can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, visit http://stlouisgreenchallenge.com/.

Ditch the Keys and Be Car-Free for Cleaner Air

Car Free Day is right around the corner, and people all around the world are preparing to ditch their keys for the day to help reduce traffic congestion and work towards creating a greener environment. Today, with over one billion motor vehicles on the roads around the globe, it sometimes seems as if we cannot escape the pollution, noise and danger that they produce.

Every year on September 22, Car Free Day aims to take the heat off the planet by encouraging people to be less dependent on their cars and try alternatives such as walking, biking, carpooling or utilizing public transit. Although Car Free Day is only a single day out of the year, the goal of the celebrations is to have a lasting effect by inspiring individuals and communities to live more sustainably. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources available to help members of the St. Louis community leave the car keys at home and continue to take voluntary steps that can improve the quality of the air we breathe.

  • Metro Transit – The region’s public transit system is designed to eliminate the use of multiple vehicles on the road and offer great alternatives for the work commute or an option to hopping in your car for short trips. Serving St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Clair County, Ill., Metro Transit allows riders to walk to a nearby stop, or park and take a train or bus, or a combination of the two, to get where they’re going – safely, comfortably and conveniently. Those who live in Madison County, Illinois will find Madison County Transit to be a great alternative.
  • Ridesharing – With transportation-related emissions being one of the biggest contributors to air pollution, RideFinders offers a path to reduce those emissions by providing a free carpool and vanpool ride matching service for commuters to help improve the overall quality of the air. By sharing a ride instead of driving alone, commuters can save money and have a more relaxing trip. Ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft match drivers of private vehicles to those seeking transportation and are also a great option to eliminate the use of multiple vehicles.
  • Walk or Bike – Walking and biking are great ways to burn calories instead of burning gas! Not only do they serve as eco-friendly ways to run errands and get around town when the weather is nice, use of these alternatives helps take cars off area roads and reduces the emissions that lead to poor air quality. Experts note that if just 1 percent of those who drive chose to bike regularly instead, automobile emissions would fall 2 to 4 percent.

Drop the keys and pledge to be car-free on September 22 to do your share for cleaner air and help people all across the St. Louis region breathe easier! For more great tips on how to achieve cleaner air all year long, visit http://cleanair-stlouis.com/air-quality-tips/, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

Spotlight On: Ameren Missouri

Not only is it important for individuals to act sustainably to reduce environmental impact, but the same goes for companies as well. Businesses often leave behind a large carbon footprint, but by creating green initiatives these companies can do their share for cleaner air and work towards improving the quality of our earth. The Clean Air Partnership values the efforts of businesses who channel their time and energy towards practicing sustainability, so this month we’re putting a spotlight on Ameren Missouri and their commitment to keeping pace with future energy needs by implementing green business practices.

Ameren Missouri is part of St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation and has provided electric and gas service for more than 100 years.  As a company that is proud to serve, support and invest in the communities they call home, 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 is dedicated to building a legacy of environmental stewardship.

After joining the St. Louis Green Business Challenge and putting their vision into action, Ameren Missouri proudly watched their green efforts be recognized in 2018 when they received the highest award in the Challenge, the Achievement Award in the Star Circle of Excellence and an Award of Merit at the Champion Level.  To achieve the title of Challenge Champion, businesses must have completed work with the Leader scorecard in past years and commit to continued implementation of deeper sustainability strategies, such as reducing energy usage by at least 25% and diverting waste by 75% or greater.

Ameren’s Champion Innovation Project focuses on investing in Missouri’s clean energy future by entering an agreement to acquire, after construction, a 400-megawatt wind energy facility in northeast Missouri. This facility will become operational in 2020 and the state-of-the-art turbines will produce wind energy for an estimated 120,000 homes in Adair and Schuyler counties. Not only will this sustainability effort provide increased access to new sources of clean energy, it also helps open the door to further development in the region, bringing additional jobs and economic benefits to the area.

Ameren’s continuous efforts to give back to the community by being a green leader in the industry shows their diligence to fulfilling the mission of “powering the quality of life”. They have carried out plans to provide their customers with greater benefits today and in the future – including more affordable and stable rates – all while being able to provide another source of renewable energy in Missouri.

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. For additional information on the sustainable efforts underway by Ameren Missouri and how your company can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, visit http://stlouisgreenchallenge.com/.

Spotlight On: Webster University

With warm summer temps settling in and the importance of keeping the region’s air clean at an all-time high, the Clean Air Partnership is recognizing businesses and institutions of all types and sizes that are driving change in St. Louis. College campuses are oftentimes breeding grounds for new innovations and ideas, especially ones that work towards a more sustainable future. This month, we continue to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the St. Louis Green Business Challenge by shining a spotlight on Webster University for its sustainability initiatives.

Webster University is a private, non-profit university that offers undergraduate and graduate programs in various disciplines. The university has multiple branch locations both national and international, with its home campus in Webster Groves, MO. Recently, the campus community has been making exceptional strides that produce positive impacts on the natural world. In 2018, its main campus received St. Louis Green Business Challenge’s Achievement Award in the Star Circle of Excellence and an Award of Merit at the Champion Level, the highest level of competition.

Innovations to improve the community’s carbon footprint can be seen throughout the campus by the increased presence of bikes. Last year, the Webster University Sustainability Coalition launched the St. Louis region’s first university bike share program that allows students, faculty, staff and alumni to rent one of ten available bicycles. The bikes can be used on the college grounds and throughout the surrounding areas and the program is free to users for short distance trips.

New sustainable technology is now present at Webster University as well. Through grant funding, the university was able to install two new solar-powered recycling waste compactors in high traffic areas on campus, in addition to their existing recycling bins and containers. Furthermore, the university completed an LED lighting retrofit at the campus pool to make the building more energy efficient.

In another effort to encourage Webster University students to think critically about prevalent issues in our environment, the Sustainability Coalition and the Sustainability Office partnered to host the first campus-wide Sustainability Week in 2018. The annual week is comprised of an array of events and opportunities for the campus community to make a greater connection with built and natural habitats. This summer, Webster University also hosted Sustainability Wednesdays from 12 to 1 p.m. to help the community learn about the impact of small, local sustainable actions. Topics this year ranged from local agriculture and food insecurity, to how voting can improve equitable transportation options, to the impact of citizen science.

Webster University’s initiatives to create a more environmentally friendly campus and to educate the surrounding community about sustainability makes it a leading example for universities across the country. With the effort of communities like Webster, we can work to help make the planet greener, one step at a time.

For more information on the link between sustainability and air quality, explore our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair. To learn more about the ongoing sustainable efforts by Webster University and how your company or institution can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, visit http://stlouisgreenchallenge.com/.

Taking Action for Cleaner Air This Summer to Maintain Healthy Lungs

Breathing comes so naturally that we oftentimes give it little thought and take our lungs for granted. The reality is, every cell of our body counts on them and the oxygen they supply, which is why it is so important to prioritize lung health, especially during extreme weather conditions.

With the risks from airborne pollution so great, the Clean Air Partnership seeks to inform people who may be in danger during the hot summer months, including children and teens, anyone 65 and older, people who work or exercise outdoors, and people with existing lung diseases or cardiovascular disease. While cities all across the nation have made significant strides towards cleaning up the air, still, more than 141 million people live in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution—meaning the air we breathe could pose an increased risk of premature death, cause lung cancer or other harmful effects. According to the findings of this year’s “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association, more than 75,200 people with lung cancer live in counties that received an “F” for at least one pollutant. Similarly, more than 8,600 people with lung cancer live in counties failing all three tests. In St. Louis County alone, nearly 85,000 adults suffer from lung cancer or cardiovascular disease.

Fortunately, there are several things that individuals can do to preserve lung health and breathe easier this summer. Exercise helps to strengthen the lungs, however, it’s important to workout indoors on poor air quality days as heat can trigger an asthma attack or cause symptoms of COPD to flare up. Practicing specific breathing exercises – like slowly inhaling and exhaling – is another great way to help keep your lungs in shape and improve their capacity.

The Clean Air Partnership, along with several other organizations, helps play a significant role in raising awareness about all the ways people in the St. Louis region can reduce emissions to help keep the air quality in healthy ranges. As a driving force in the fight for cleaner air, The Partnership is best known for its daily air quality forecasting. St. Louisans can stay tuned all summer long by signing up at www.cleanair-stlouis.com to receive forecasts that utilize a color-coded system designed to keep individuals informed about ozone pollution levels in the region, and how those levels can affect their health. Given that auto emissions are a key contributor to poor air quality, area residents are encouraged to carpool with friends or coworkers, utilize public transit, bike or walk instead of driving when air quality conditions are favorable, avoid vehicle idling, and visit www.gatewayguide.com or use MoDOT’s 511 travel information number to get real-time traffic information and use it to better plan routes to avoid traffic tie-ups and construction zones.

For more information and additional tips for taking action to clean the air this summer, visit our website, like the Clean Air Partnership on Facebook or follow @gatewaycleanair on Twitter.

Spotlight On: UniGroup, Inc.

As the Clean Air Partnership works to encourage activities that reduce emissions this summer, we continue to recognize the great work and innovative initiatives of businesses that are committed to clearing the air in the St. Louis region. This month, we’re shining a spotlight on UniGroup for their commitment to providing industry-leading transportation solutions while emphasizing the importance of sustainable business practices.

UniGroup, headquartered in suburban St. Louis, is a $1.7 billion moving and transportation company that aims to deliver the highest quality of service to area residents and customers around the world. As one of the most well-known names in the moving industry, the organization understands the importance of operating with an eye towards sustainability in order to achieve their mission.

A proud participant of the St. Louis Green Business Challenge and a champion of sustainability, UniGroup uses the Challenge as motivation to continually make strides towards improving three major areas: people, environment and future of the business. In 2018, the organization received the Achievement Award in the Star Circle of Excellence and an Award of Merit at the Champion Level, the highest level of competition. To achieve the title of Challenge Champion, businesses must have completed work with the Leader scorecard in past years and commit to continued implementation of deeper sustainability strategies, such as reducing energy usage by at least 25% and diverting waste by 75% or greater.

To follow through with their commitment, UniGroup has improved sustainability by installing LED lights, reducing electricity usage and increasing participation in their sustainability challenge by 33% overall. They even hold their own Earth Week Celebration in which individuals are encouraged to participate in roadside clean up, nature film viewings, a wellness fair, and hiking and biking events. In 2013, UniGroup formed the UniGreen Team, a committee of volunteers from business units throughout the company who regularly meet to identify and advance projects that support their sustainability focus. Some of these green initiatives included the installation of solar panels and high efficiency heating systems, ENERGYSTAR certification, ISO 14001 certification and more.

UniGroup continues to look for ways to engage its agents in sustainability efforts and how they can do more to reduce environmental impact. From a UniGreen Team member’s suggestion, the company hosted its first webinar with United and Mayflower agents to discuss the benefits of balers for cardboard and paper associated with moving services. The UniGreen Team also worked with UniGroup’s art and box purchasing departments to create a logo for moving boxes to remind customers to ReUse, ReCycle, or ReTurn their empty boxes!

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. For additional information on the sustainable efforts underway by UniGroup and how your company can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, visit http://stlouisgreenchallenge.com/.