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.