Spotlight On: Missouri Historical Society

As we continue to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, the Clean Air Partnership is recognizing some of the great work and innovative initiatives underway, with a particular focus on businesses of all types and sizes that are helping to reduce air pollution in the St. Louis area. This month, we’re shining a spotlight on the Missouri Historical Society for their commitment to preserving the stories of St. Louis while working towards a more sustainable future.

The Missouri Historical Society (MHS) serves as the confluence of historical perspectives and contemporary issues to inspire and engage audiences in the St. Louis region and beyond. MHS operates the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis’ Forest Park, the Library & Research Center, and the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum. The organization assumes responsibility for its role in environmental stewardship and seeks to minimize consumption of energy and materials, treat waste responsibly, and make sustainable practices an integral part of all operations to reduce the organization’s environmental footprint. After all, it is extremely important to preserve the Earth to ensure that the history and culture is around for many generations to come.

Since joining the St. Louis Green Business Challenge in 2011, the Missouri Historical Society has competed annually to improve sustainability performance and deliver financial, social, and environmental results. For three consecutive years beginning in 2014, MHS received an Award of Merit at the Leaders Level. In 2017 and 2018, MHS received the Achievement Award in the Star Circle of Excellence and an Award of Merit at the Champion Level, the highest level of competition.

MHS maintains accountability to the environment and the community by partnering with local, sustainable vendors; acting as an advocate; volunteering to help other cultural institutions become more sustainable; and taking major steps toward lowering energy use. Specifically, the Missouri Historical Society has pledged to achieve a 25 percent reduction in energy consumption by the year 2020 as part of the US Green Building Council’s Better Buildings Through Benchmarking campaign.

Furthermore, as part of a larger effort to replace old light bulbs with LEDs wherever possible, the Library & Research Center has undergone a complete lighting upgrade that increased energy efficiency and resulted in more than 1,300 light bulbs being recycled. Staff members use natural cleaning products from St. Louis–based company Better Life to keep the History Clubhouse sanitized and maintain a spotless environment throughout MHS exhibits, offices and breakrooms. Through its partnership with earthday365 for the popular Twilight Tuesdays concert series, MHS also provides composting and recycling containers to reduce waste and encourage recycling.

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 the Missouri Historical Society and how your company can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, visit

Reducing Your Transportation Footprint for Memorial Day Weekend Travels

With Memorial Day just around the corner, a record number of drivers are expected to hit the road for the three-day weekend, according to the latest AAA forecast. The long holiday weekend, marking the unofficial start of summer vacation season, will see the second-highest travel volume on record. Regardless of what your weekend plans entail, it is important to keep in mind that traveling can negatively impact the environment.

Fortunately, there are a variety of ways that area residents can incorporate sustainability into their holiday celebrations by making a few small changes to the way that we travel. Commemorating Memorial Day in an eco-friendly manner is a perfect way to honor our country and pay our respects to those who serve and protect our great nation. With that in mind, here are just a few of the many ways you can reduce your transportation footprint this weekend to help improve the region’s air quality:

  • Travel Light – Greener travel starts before we even leave 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 – that pose many threats to human health. Be conscious of how much you are packing to lighten the load and help keep the air quality in healthy ranges.
  • Turn Off and Unplug – While you may feel more comfortable leaving on a light or two in your absence, that doesn’t mean that you have to leave computers, tablets and other electrical devices on that still use electricity when plugged in, even though they may be idle. Do a walk-through of your home before you leave to turn off and unplug any unnecessary electronics because energy production is a key source of air pollution. Doing so will help clean the air by reducing harmful emissions!
  • Choose to Travel by Bus or Train – If possible, consider traveling by bus or train to your destination. These are the greenest options and can offer a certain level of convenience, particularly if the weather and roads are bad along your travel route. If you must fly, check to see if you can get an affordable nonstop flight to help improve the air quality by cutting back on carbon emissions that come from takeoff and landing. Buses, trains, hybrid cars, and coach seats on narrow jets weigh in with the smallest carbon footprints.
  • Properly Maintain Your Vehicle – If you are 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.
  • Make Your Stay a Greener One – If your travel plans include staying at a hotel, consider some simple practices to minimize energy use during your trip like taking short showers, turning off any lights or electronics before leaving the room, keeping the thermostat at a reasonable temperature, and reusing sheets and towels instead of having them washed and changed every day. Otherwise, plan on staying with friends or family to cut back on cost and reduce energy use.

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

Celebrating 10 Years of Making Green Work for St. Louis Businesses

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 [email protected] or visit 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.

St. Louis Area Escapes Being Listed Among “Most-Polluted” U.S. Cities

The American Lung Association’s 2019 “State of the Air” report is out, and it reveals the number of people exposed to unhealthy air increased to nearly 141.1 million, rising from the 133.9 million in the years covered by the 2018 report (2014-2016). For the third consecutive year, the St. Louis region has escaped being ranked among the top 25 most-polluted cities in the U.S., but the fact that many counties in the St. Louis metro area still had multiple days when the air quality was unhealthy means that there is still much work to be done to protect our local communities from the growing risks to public health resulting from increased levels of ozone and particle pollution.

Far too many cities across the nation saw an increased number of days when ground-level ozone reached unhealthy levels and particle pollution soared to often record-breaking levels in some areas. Altogether, 43.3 percent of the population is exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution, and while we may not be among the most polluted cities in this year’s ‘State of the Air’ ranking, poor air quality remains a problem that affects everyone in the St. Louis area.

The report reveals that as climate change continues, cleaning up these pollutants will become ever more challenging, ultimately making it harder to protect human health. Increased heat in 2017, the third warmest year on record in the U.S., likely drove this increase in ozone as warmer temperatures stimulate the reactions in the atmosphere that cause ozone to form.

“As we prepare to settle into summer when we’re at greater risk for higher levels of ozone pollution in our region, it’s important to keep in mind children, older adults and those who suffer from lung diseases that make them especially vulnerable to poor air quality,” said Susannah Fuchs, Director, Clean Air for the American Lung Association in Missouri. “While the fight for cleaner air presses on, we encourage area residents to remain steadfast in their efforts to take voluntary steps to reduce emissions because those actions play a critical role in improving air quality conditions and lung health of our region.”

The 2019 air quality forecasting season commenced on May 1st, along with the Clean Air Partnership’s seasonal outreach to educate St. Louis residents on the health effects of air pollution and the steps they can take to keep air quality in healthy ranges. With transportation-related emissions being one of the biggest contributors to air pollution, actions like taking transit, carpooling, vanpooling, telecommuting, avoiding idling our vehicles and combining errands into a single trip can help reduce emissions when poor air quality is forecasted.

For additional information on the health effects of poor air quality and tips for doing your share for cleaner air, visit, like the Clean Air Partnership on Facebook or follow @gatewaycleanair on Twitter. To access the American Lung Association’s 2019 State of the Air report, visit