Spotlight On: The City of Highland

Located just 35 miles east of St. Louis and home to nearly 10,000 residents, the City of Highland has a long history of being a progressive municipality, successfully blending industry within a small-town atmosphere. As the Clean Air Partnership continues to spotlight local municipalities utilizing innovative approaches to create cleaner, greener environments for their constituents, we’re pleased to recognize Highland’s ongoing commitment to sustainability that helps shape city operations and future planning.

Highland was a proud participant of the 2021 St. Louis Green Cities Challenge alongside other participating municipalities that addressed sustainability within the range of operational requirements unique to their local governments. As part of the Challenge, the city incorporated a sustainability policy and practiced fundamentals, including addressing measures defined by OneSTL, the regional plan for sustainable development. At the focus of their sustainability goals was the conservation of Silver Lake, which serves as the lifeline to the future for their community.

“Completed in 1962 as a result of the 1954 drought, Highland is grateful to our past city leadership that had the forethought to see Silver Lake become a lasting water supply for future generations,” said Mark Rosen, Director of Highland Parks and Recreation.

In partnership with Heartlands Conservancy, Highland was awarded a Section 319 grant to utilize Nonpoint Source Management Program funds to implement best management practices from the Highland Silver Lake Watershed Plan, developed by HDR Engineering in 2011. The city maximized the use of funds to significantly reduce pollutants entering Silver Lake, ultimately decreasing 2,794 pounds of phosphate per year, 5,211 pounds of nitrogen per year, 3,132 tons less sediment per year. This also proves to be a positive for the region’s air quality!

Additional green improvements were made in the community, including the construction of a wetland restoration site and removal of a minimum of five acres of invasive plant species, which can negatively impact climate change mitigation efforts. The city also constructed a one-acre retention pond adjacent to the wetland to trap sediment, while doubling as a fish-rearing pond where fish are raised before being released into Silver Lake. Moreover, the city reconstructed a local peninsula with rip-rap – a range of rocky material placed along shoreline structures to protect from scour and erosion – to aid during large storm events and provide a number of water quality benefits.

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

Spotlight On: RBO

Based in Maryland Heights, RBO – formerly known as RBO PrintLogistix – is an established marketing execution company that helps brands become leaders in their industries through a mix of solutions that include creative services, brand controls, brand fulfillment and metrics. Veteran-owned and woman-led, these four pillars are the foundation of RBO’s holistic approach to elevating brand identities and relieving the burden faced by today’s busy marketing professionals. With an added specialty in sustainability, the company’s noteworthy green achievements and innovations are having a positive effect on the environment and helping clear the air in St. Louis the region.

With seven years of continued sponsorship of the St. Louis Green Business Challenge under the company’s belt, RBO was pleased to participate in their 2021 Challenge, where they earned the esteemed title of Challenge Champion for completing work with the Leader scorecard and committing to continued implementation of deeper sustainability strategies.

During the Challenge, RBO adopted a digital project workflow to dramatically reduce the amount of desktop printouts. “We are implementing additional technology that will reduce paper waste and our dependency on natural resources,” said Stacey Elliot, Director of Human Resources at RBO. To further conserve energy, RBO’s new power management solution allowed clients to measure, manage and monitor their organization’s desktop and mobile computers, reducing energy costs by as much as 30%.

Additionally, RBO implemented a permanent hybrid work policy, allowing employees to work from home multiple times a week on a regular basis. The flexibility telecommuting provides not only helps to reduce the need for transportation to-and-from work, cutting down on harmful carbon emissions, but also minimizes company reliance on non-renewable resources, which is a win for our air quality!

Another impressive initiative that earned RBO recognition in the Challenge was hosting an E-waste recycling event during summer, which allowed individuals to properly dispose of their electronic devices to avoid them taking up space in hazardous landfills that pollute the atmosphere. RBO also sourced personal protection equipment (PPE) for health care workers, first responders and business clients to ensure their safety needs were met in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The Clean Air Partnership is delighted to recognize the efforts of businesses such as RBO 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.

’Tis the Season for Sustainability: A Guide to Greening Holiday Celebrations

The next wave of holidays is quickly approaching, and although we recognize this to be the most wonderful time of year, it’s also considered the most wasteful. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s alone, waste production jumps 25%, adding an extra one million tons of waste to landfills each week.

While these are some alarming numbers, there’s much that can be done to combat excess waste and celebrate a sustainable holiday. The more people that work to save energy and resources during this season, the bigger the impact that can be made. As you get into the festive spirit these next few weeks, here are some tips to make going green a new treasured holiday tradition:

  • Gift Greener – Consider gifting an experience to loved ones to reduce waste and environmental impact. Buying gifts from local businesses that follow social and environmental practices or supporting local artists, craftspeople or farmers will also largely benefit the region’s air quality. Additionally, newspapers, old posters, maps, reusable gift bags or scrap fabric lying around the house make for beautiful, personal and unique gift wraps. If you choose to buy gift wrap, look for recycled content gift wrap paper whenever you can find it.
  • Light it Right – Traditional incandescent strands use approximately 80% more energy and are far less reliable than their LED counterparts. While LEDs may be a little more expensive, they last up to 10 times longer and will ultimately save you money on your electric bill, too. Rather than keeping your house lit up 24/7, consider connecting lights to a timer so they only turn on during certain evening hours to further conserve energy.
  • Think Globally. Buy Locally. – Whether you’re heading to the mall or local family-owned shop for last minute gift shopping, remember the less you have to drive, the better for the environment. Every gallon of gas saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and not driving store-to-store will help to reduce harmful auto emissions that lead to poor air quality. Also, if you’re planning to host a festive holiday feast this year, consider shopping for sustainable produce from your local farmers. Not only does local organic food taste better, but you’ll also be doing your part for the community and the planet.
  • Travel Sustainably – Greener travel starts before even leaving 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. So, be conscious of how many extra items overall you are packing to lighten the load and help keep the air quality in healthy ranges. If you’re traveling to visit family by your own personal vehicle, routine maintenance steps like checking engine performance and keeping tires properly inflated are ideal ways to help reduce emissions and fuel consumption. Traveling by bus or train are also great options that can offer a certain level of convenience, particularly if the weather and roads are bad along your route

A few small changes are all it takes to help people all across the St. Louis region breathe easier this holiday season. To learn more, visit the tips section of the Clean Air Partnership’s website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.