2019 marked a huge milestone for the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, as they celebrated 10 years of delivering Triple Bottom Line results (fiscal, social and environmental) to businesses of all types and sizes across the St. Louis region. 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 bi-state area, and we’re pleased to highlight its tremendous impact by recognizing some of the great work and innovative initiatives underway by several local businesses.
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 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 businesses, non-profits and municipalities have joined the Challenge and participation has engaged over 155,000 employees and nearly 470,000 residents.
In 2019, a total of 61 companies, non-profits, institutions and governmental bodies participated in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge. One-hundred percent of these participants formed a Green Team to lead sustainability efforts, participated in workplace recycling of both single-stream materials and electronics, have implemented and/or continue to add energy efficiency measures, provided employee education toward greening both the workplace and home, as well as established a Sustainability Policy or Sustainability Guidelines for their organization.
The Challenge’s tenth year kicked off in March with a Green Products and Services Showcase, where participants presented their sustainable service and product offerings in a B-to-B Resource Fair. The event also recapped achievements and related lessons learned from the 2018 Challenge with presentations from each program level.
Over the course of a year, challenge companies benefit from customized coaching, monthly seminars, workshops and various special events to maintain a robust regional professional network of sustainability leaders, representing a wide range of career specializations. Last year, Challenge leaders explored Green Infrastructure on the Ten Toe Express during July’s seminar hosted by Citizens for Modern Transit City and toured St. Peters’ Recycle City and Earth Centre in November to understand the processes at work when recycling and composting in the workplace.
At the completion of each 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 Ameren Missouri, World Wide Technology, Inc. and Missouri American Water. Merit Awards at the Leader Level in the Tenant Category were earned by PGAV, Trane – Ingersoll Rand and Environmental Operations, Inc., while Commerce Bank, Forest Park Forever and Meridian Village – Lutheran Senior Services were the top finishers in the Owner Category. An additional nine municipalities were recognized for their efforts in the Green Cities Challenge. We’ll be profiling several of these standouts in the coming year so you can learn more.
Challenge 2020 registration opens on February 4. Activities will get underway with a kickoff seminar on March 11, featuring a B-to-B Resource Fair, “How We Did It” reports from participants at each level of the 2019 Challenge and a guest presentation from Envision Charlotte (NC), a public/private sustainability initiative using the principles of Circular Economy.
For more information on how to get your company or municipality involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge/Green Cities Challenge in 2020, contact program manager Jean Ponzi at [email protected] or subscribe to the bi-monthly Challenge eNews 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.