Spotlight On: The City of Clayton

As a returning participant in the St. Louis Green Cities Challenge in 2021, the City of Clayton reinvented its commitment of sustainability through the identification of new priorities and implementation of new projects to make Clayton a greener place to live, work and learn.

Known for its bustling business district and charming residential neighborhoods, the City of Clayton aims to foster a diverse and inclusive community by offering something for everyone. With a strong record of valuing sustainability, the city has been recognized for its outstanding recycling programs, use of rain gardens, city-wide smoking ban and dedication to green building design embedded in its culture and operations. Led by the city’s Sustainability Committee, Clayton continues to prioritize green practices, identifying additional ways they can continue to be a sustainability leader in the region.

During the 2021 Challenge, the City of Clayton Parks & Recreation Department began to replace High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights in the parks with LED light bulbs, which are more energy efficient and produce zero toxic elements. Clayton’s Public Works Dept. also replaced all compact fluorescent bulbs in City Hall, taking advantage of Ameren Missouri rebates that offer instant savings for purchasing qualified LEDs.

Moreover, the City of Clayton’s Parks and Public Works Superintendents took a new approach to storm clean-up last year to improve efficiencies. While these departments typically work independently, they determined that clearing streets, sidewalks and parks by area of Clayton as one coordinated unit would result in a significant reduction in miles driven in addition to labor costs, reducing emissions, etc. To take things one step further, the city’s Public Works and Parks & Recreation Departments consolidated mowing contracts to cut back on the number of contractors working in the city, thereby reducing the number of vehicles/equipment and associated emissions. The Public Works Department has also been recycling concrete, asphalt and steel on its construction projects since 2009, diverting over 35,000 tons of construction materials from landfills, which also positively benefits the quality of the air we breathe!

Last but not least, the City of Clayton has gone green at City Hall by transitioning to online operations for various functions that used to take place in person, saving paper and other office supplies, as well as reducing commute times by eliminating the need to drive for trips to their facilities. Two R-22 AC chiller units – which contain ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbon substances – were also replaced at City Hall-Fire Station with more eco-friendly, energy efficient units to help improve air quality.

For additional information on the sustainable efforts underway by the City of Clayton and how your municipality can get involved in the Challenge, subscribe to the bi-monthly E-Newsletter or visit  To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, explore the Clean Air Partnership website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair. 


Spotlight On: Cortex Innovation Community

Founded 20 years ago through a collaboration of Washington University, BJC HealthCare, University of Missouri – St. Louis, Saint Louis University and the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Cortex Innovation Community is an internationally recognized, 200-acre urban hub of innovation and entrepreneurship focused on accelerating inclusive economic growth in St. Louis. As a place for big thinkers and risk takers, the district strives to create a space where businesses and the people who create, work for and access them are supported to help make the region globally competitive.

Cortex Innovation Community was pleased to participate in the 2021 St. Louis Green Business Challenge with a focus the development of a districtwide Sustainability Plan. During the Challenge, Cortex Innovation Community earned the esteemed title of Challenge Champion for completing work with the Leader scorecard and committing to continued implementation of deeper sustainability strategies.

The framework for the Cortex Sustainability Plan will help guide future decision-making and provide a structure and roadmap to improve the health of their environment and community. Part of the strategy focuses on supporting and partnering with regional sustainability organizations to add value to their ongoing goals and objectives, while leveraging existing initiatives and using the hub for innovation and a testing ground for new technologies. Other areas of focus for the Sustainability Plan include District Building Design Standards (for tenants); Placemaking & Landscaping; Regeneration & Living Infrastructure; Mobility & Transportation; Energy & Emissions; Waste & Circular Economy; Food & Nutrition; Beauty & Vibrancy and more.

Among Cortex Innovation Community’s other impressive accomplishments to receive recognition in the Challenge was a collaboration with Native Landscape Solutions to plant native Missouri prairie grass to help restore biodiversity and soil health to a section of the Cortex Commons. Another partnership with PocketParks helped to create a sunflower field on the long vacant block at Forest Park and Vandeventer Avenues, while an additional partnership was forged with Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) to organize a trash pick-up event for the district.

To further reduce environmental impact, Cortex Innovation Community also installed eight electric vehicle chargers on the first floor of their parking garage to make it easier for the community to adopt the use of electric vehicles, which are better for the air because they reduce the amount of harmful CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere.

The Clean Air Partnership is delighted to recognize the efforts of entities such as the Cortex Innovation Community that continue to take action for cleaner air by channeling their time and energy towards practicing sustainability. For additional information on how your company can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, subscribe to their weekly E-Newsletter or visit 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.

Keeping Lung Health Top of Mind As Summer Heats Up

According to the American Lung Association’s latest “State of the Air” report, the three years covered by the report (2018-2020) ranked among the seven hottest years on record globally. With June already having seen some of the hottest days in years in the St. Louis region and the prime of summer approaching – where warmer weather and stagnant air create conditions that make ozone more likely to form – the importance of keeping the region’s air clean remains at an all-time high.

While anyone who spends time outdoors where ozone pollution levels are high may be at risk, the health burden of air pollution is not evenly shared, as some groups of people are especially vulnerable to illness and death from their exposure. Research has shown that people of color are more likely to be exposed to air pollution and suffer harm to their health from breathing polluted air. Over the years, decision-makers have found it easier to place sources of pollution, such as power plants, industrial facilities, landfills and highways, in economically disadvantaged communities of color. The resulting disproportionate exposure to air pollution has contributed to high rates of emergency department visits for asthma and other diseases. Report findings revealed some 72 million people of color live in counties that received at least one failing grade for ozone and/or particle pollution, with over 14 million people of color living in counties that received failing grades on all three measures.

There’s also evidence that having low income or living in lower income areas puts people at increased risk from air pollution. People living in poverty are more likely to live in close proximity to sources of pollution since they have fewer resources to relocate than those with more financial security, as well as having less access to quality and affordable health care to provide relief to them when they get sick. In the U.S. alone, more than 15.9 million people with incomes meeting the federal poverty definition live in counties that received an “F” grade for at least one pollutant. Children, older adults and people living with chronic conditions – especially heart and lung disease – may also be physically more susceptible to the health impacts of air pollution than others.

To help keep area residents informed about ozone pollution levels in the region and how those levels can affect their health, the Clean Air Partnership releases color-coded, daily air quality forecasts during the summer months to let individuals know what the next day’s air quality is forecast to be and if they should alter their outdoor activities to minimize exposure to polluted air, particularly on orange or red ozone action days. Area residents can visit to sign up to receive the daily air quality forecast via email or text and to learn more about alternative transportation options that extend beyond driving in single-occupancy vehicles. These include taking transit, carpooling, vanpooling, walking, biking or telecommuting, all of which positively impact the quality of air St. Louisans breathe!

For more information and a host of additional tips to beat the summer heat to help clear the air and protect human health, visit, like the Clean Air Partnership on Facebook or follow @gatewaycleanair on Twitter.