Spotlight On: Forest Park Forever

As we prepare to settle into summer when the importance of taking action to help keep the air clean is at an all-time high, we’re continuing to recognize local businesses and organizations that have gone to measurable lengths to reduce environmental impact through their participation in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge. Like the Clean Air Partnership, Forest Park Forever is proud to keep sustainability and conservation at the forefront of their work, and this month, we’re thrilled to shine a spotlight on the organization for their commitment to make clean air a priority throughout their business practices.

A private nonprofit conservancy, Forest Park Forever has spent the last 34 years working to restore, maintain and sustain Forest Park as one of the nation’s greatest urban public parks, in partnership with the City of St. Louis and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry. In the 2019 Challenge, Forest Park Forever received the Star Circle of Excellence Achievement Award and secured the second place title at the Leader Level – Owner Category for having the greatest gain from their baseline to final point totals.

From identifying strategic sustainability wins within restoration projects to encouraging today’s youth to connect to nature, Forest Park Forever considers this work vital to their mission and the future well-being of Forest Park and all green spaces. The organization has led major fundraising efforts to restore many landmark destinations in Forest Park, such as the Emerson Grand Basin, the Boathouse and the Jewel Box, including securing $139 million for Park restoration projects and an expanded endowment. Along with preservation of the park, they also provide information and guides for its 13 million annual visitors, as well as an array of educational opportunities for all ages.

Among Forest Park Forever’s impressive accomplishments to receive recognition in the Challenge is construction on the Forest Park East Waterways project, which is designed to enhance water quality, biodiversity, fishing habitat and access. Working with the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD), the project will remove thousands of gallons of water from the stormwater system. Late last year, Forest Park Forever also installed an 11,500-watt solar array to power the organization’s shop building. The new unit is expected to supply 40% of the building’s energy and yield about $1,200 in annual electrical savings!

Other noteworthy innovations include the construction of Forest Park’s new Nature Playscape, which is scheduled for completion later this year. The experiential Playscape will transform 17 acres of turf grass into family activity areas inspired by the region’s natural landscapes. Children will be able to explore eight natural activity areas including a meadow, spring, bottomlands and more. Adding hundreds of majority native trees and plants will help to improve the region’s air quality and reconnect families with nature, all while continuing Forest Park Forever’s work to restore sustainable landscapes.

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. For additional information on the sustainable efforts underway by Forest Park Forever and how your company can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, subscribe to the bi-monthly E-Newsletter or visit

Keeping Lung Health Top of Mind as the Fight for Cleaner Air Presses On

Our lungs are always hard at work to keep us alive and well, but oftentimes we take them for granted. During the coming summer months, when weather conditions create a risk for higher ozone pollution levels and ozone-related health concerns, it is especially important to prioritize lung health by minimizing exposure to air pollution and taking action to reduce harmful emissions that contribute to the problem.

Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, those who suffer from existing lung conditions and older adults are more at risk for severe disease than others. When it comes to poor air quality, those same individuals are also at risk, along with children who are more susceptible to air pollution as their lungs are still developing. Even though cities all across the nation have made noteworthy strides towards cleaning up the air, millions of Americans – including St. Louis residents – are living in communities impacted by unhealthy levels of pollution in the form of high ozone days, more particle pollution days and higher annual particle levels than ever before. According to the American Lung Association’s 2020 State of the Air report, 2.5 million children and 10.6 million adults with asthma live in counties that received an “F” grade for at least one pollutant. Likewise, more than 316,000 children and 1.4 million adults with asthma live in counties failing all three tests, meaning there is still much work to be done to protect local communities from the growing risks to public health.

With that in mind, there are a number of things individuals can do to promote lung health and minimize exposure to ozone and particle pollution. For starters, the Clean Air Partnership releases daily air quality forecasts to let residents know what the air quality will be during the prime of summer. Signing up to receive the color-coded forecast via email at helps to ensure St. Louisans know what the next day’s air quality will be and if they should take precaution by altering their outdoor activities to avoid being exposed to polluted air. Avoiding exercising near high-traffic areas with excess pollution and avoiding working out outdoors when poor air quality is forecasted are also crucial steps for preserving lung health as heat can trigger an asthma attack or cause symptoms of COPD to flare up.

While weather conditions do play a significant role in our region’s daily air quality, transportation-related emissions have always been one of the biggest contributors to air pollution, and the choices people make on how to get around affects air quality and the health of the region. Actions like walking and biking instead of using a vehicle for short trips, combining errands into a single trip, not topping off your gas tank and avoiding vehicle idling can all greatly impact the amount of ozone-forming emissions generated on any given day.

For more information and a host of additional tips to clean the air so individuals all across St. Louis breathe easier this summer, visit our website, like the Clean Air Partnership on Facebook or follow @gatewaycleanair on Twitter.


Spotlight On: The Village of Glen Carbon

The St. Louis Green Business/Green Cities Challenge supports the integration of sustainability measures into the kinds of everyday operational practices common to every business and those unique to local governments. This month, the Clean Air Partnership is delighted to shine a spotlight on the great work underway by the Village of Glen Carbon, Illinois, to reduce their overall carbon footprint and keep the region’s air quality in healthy ranges.

With the motto of “Honoring our Past, Building our Future” guiding the village’s efforts to become more eco-friendly, Glen Carbon continues to pursue various strategies to be a more sustainable community and uphold their rich tradition of being a great place to live, work and play. In 2019, the village received the Award of Achievement in the Green Cities Challenge, where participants advance their green efforts by implementing a sustainability policy and practicing fundamentals, including addressing measures defined by OneSTL, the regional plan for sustainable development.

During the 2019 Challenge, Glen Carbon established a Community Garden next to Village Hall with eight raised beds for village residents, featuring pollinator gardens, wildflowers, vegetable gardens and more. Furthermore, the installation rain barrels at the Village Hall Municipal Building has helped to capture excess rainwater from the roof and conserve it for later use. The village also installed refillable water coolers for employees and staff at Village Hall and stopped purchasing single-use water bottles for board meetings to help cut back on pollution caused from plastic waste that ends up in landfills.

Additionally, Glen Carbon hosted two village-wide shredding events – one in spring and one in fall – to reduce environmental impact while protecting residents from identity theft. Because 100% of the shredded paper was recycled, these events prevented the paper from otherwise going into a landfill and allowed the recycled content to be turned into daily-use products like paper towels, kitchen towels, bath tissue, writing paper, egg cartons, lamp shades, shopping bags, and more.

Other exciting initiatives include a Plastic Straw Reduction Project that asks local restaurants to stop automatically handing out plastic straws and to only provide upon request, helping the environment one sip at a time. This voluntary program is supported by both the City of Edwardsville and Village of Glen Carbon. In terms of energy conservation, Glen Carbon budgeted funding for this year for an LED lighting upgrade to all village buildings. LED lights are up to 80% more efficient than traditional lighting such as fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, meaning that less energy use will result in decreased greenhouse gas emissions to help improve air quality within the town.

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. For more information about the ongoing sustainable efforts by the Village of Glen Carbon and how your municipality can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business/Green Cities Challenge, subscribe to the bi-monthly E-Newsletter or visit