2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, a premier program that provides organizations all across the St. Louis region with a clear and measurable roadmap to more comprehensive green business practices. Like the Clean Air Partnership, this Challenge is focused on encouraging and inspiring voluntary steps to help improve the environment in the St. Louis region, including helping to clear the air, and in this milestone year we’re pleased to highlight the tremendous impact it’s having on the region.
The Challenge is a program of the Missouri Botanical Garden that helps businesses of all types and sizes to integrate “Triple Bottom Line” (fiscal, social and environmental) measures into the kinds of daily operations common to every business. As a part of the program, participants identify and adopt strategies that improve financial performance and engage employees in voluntary measures to reduce environmental impacts. Since its launch in 2010, 233 companies – representing more than 150,000 employees – have joined the Green Business Challenge. St. Louis’ ongoing commitment to sustainability is reflected in the numbers, with 47% of these companies participating for three or more years; a Green Decade Honor Roll of 13 companies have been engaged for the entirety of the program’s existence.
In 2018, a total of 59 companies, non-profits, institutions, and governmental bodies participated in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge. Remarkably, 100% of these participants formed a Green Team to lead sustainability efforts, have implemented and/or continue to add energy efficiency measures, provided employee education toward greening both their workplace and home, and participated in workplace recycling of both single-stream materials and electronics. This year, the program will be filled with sustainable business learning and leadership resources, professional networking, b-to-b marketing opportunities, and recognition for superior green achievements.
The Green Business Challenge is broken down into four levels: Challenge Apprentice, Challenge Leader, Challenge Champion and Green Cities Challenge. Last year, Apprentice green teams adopted sustainability policies, converted to purchasing recycled-content office and janitorial paper products, installed high efficiency lighting and identified alternative transportation options. Challenge Leader participants work with a categorized, point-based scorecard to guide their choices of activity with the goal of achieving the greatest gain. Challenge Champion companies are those that have completed work with the Leader scorecard in past years and commit to continued implementation of deeper sustainability strategies, such as reducing energy use by at least 25% and striving toward a 75% or greater waste diversion rate. Finally, Green Cities Challenge participants address sustainability within the range of operational requirements unique to local governments.
At the completion of each St. Louis Green Business Challenge program year, scorecards and case studies are submitted and points are tallied to determine the overall winners. To honor achievements across the program’s multiple levels of participation there are several award categories, including the Award of Achievement, Award of Merit, Innovation Award, Circle of Excellence, and Star in the Circle of Excellence. Top finishers last year at the Champion Level were Missouri Historical Society, UniGroup, Inc., Webster University, Ameren Missouri and Maritz. Merit Awards at the Leader Level were earned by Tarlton, St. Louis College of Pharmacy, COCA, World Wide Technology, Inc., and Forest Park Forever. Even the awards are sustainable, being made from materials like recycled cork and ultra-violet inks that do not include solvents or emit harmful greenhouse gasses!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.stlouisgreenchallenge.com. 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.