“A Green Decade” Finishes Strong with St. Louis Green Business Challenge Class of 2019

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.

Celebrating 25 Years of Championing Clean Air for the Bi-State Area

As we celebrate the arrival of a new year, 2020 also marks 25 years of the Clean Air Partnership holding steadfast to its mission of educating the St. Louis metropolitan area about the health risks associated with poor air quality and the impact of everyday actions on the environment. Formed in 1995 by the American Lung Association, St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, East-West Gateway Council of Governments, Washington University and others, and today led by the American Lung Association in Missouri, the Clean Air Partnership continues to increase awareness of regional air quality issues and encourage activities to reduce air pollution emissions.

While ozone and particle pollution levels still indicate there are concerns for air pollution in the St. Louis area and nationwide, the region has seen vast improvements over the past quarter of a century. Not only did we once again escape being ranked among the top 25 most-polluted cities in the U.S. this past year, but according to data from East-West Gateway Council of Governments, the number of days where ozone levels in the area exceeded the standard continues to be on the downward trend!

To keep that trend going, year-round, the Clean Air Partnership is focused on inspiring area residents and businesses to take voluntary steps to help clear the air because those actions play a critical role in improving air quality conditions and lung health of our region. With transportation being one of the biggest contributors to air pollution, the organization and its many partners, including Citizens for Modern Transit, RideFinders, Metro, Madison County Transit and MoDOT, work hard to educate commuters and business owners about the air quality benefits of alternative transportation options, such as transit use and carpooling. The Clean Air Partnership also highlights many other steps individuals, businesses and municipalities can take to improve air quality, from avoiding vehicle idling and using flex time to telecommuting to take vehicles off the road at high traffic times, and many other simple steps.

Over the past 25 years, the Partnership has probably become best known for its daily air quality forecasting that takes place over the summer months. The forecasts utilize a color-coded system designed to keep area residents informed about ozone pollution levels in the region and our air quality, whether it is in a healthy “green” range, unhealthy “red” range, or somewhere in between. The information is particularly helpful for sensitive populations who may need to modify their outdoor activities on poor air quality days.

Thanks to numerous area residents, businesses, organizations, schools, hospitals and government agencies who work together to support our mission, there are far fewer poor air quality days now than there were when the Clean Air Partnership started. We look forward to continuing to champion this cause and helping the region breathe easier for the next 25+ years, making the metro area an even better place to live, work and play.