Spotlight On: Madison County Building & Zoning

Based in Edwardsville, Ill., the Madison County Building & Zoning Department enables the County Board to plan and prioritize policies and programs related to land use and development for unincorporated areas. The Clean Air Partnership is pleased to recognize Madison County Building & Zoning Department’s air quality-friendly efforts that earned them the esteemed title of St. Louis Green Business Challenge Champion last year for completing work with the Leader scorecard and committing to continued implementation of deeper sustainability strategies. 

“The Green Business Challenge has once again been of great value to Madison County’s sustainability efforts, enhancing our ability to share ideas and collaborate with like-minded organizations,” said Brandon Banks, Resource Management Coordinator for Madison County Building & Zoning. “We continue to improve efforts in environmental education and stewardship, providing resources and building trust with the residents we serve. Working with Challenge partners, we are able to increase our impact in keeping our community strong and prosperous for future generations.” 

During the 2022 Challenge, Madison County Building & Zoning Department led two sustainable action initiatives – Madison County Green Schools Program and the Clean Communities program. The Green Schools Program worked directly with 41 schools and impacted nearly 25,000 students through recycling programs, county-wide competitions, professional development opportunities and educational resources. Additionally, the Clean Communities program focused on cleaning up litter in Madison County and successfully distributed over 1,600 resource kits to residents, each including a safety vest, litter grabber, gloves and trash bags. 

To further reduce environmental impact, Madison County Building & Zoning hosted four electronics collection events over the course of the year, serving more than 1,400 households, and recovering more than 120,000 lbs. of electronics for recycling that otherwise might have ended up in landfills and created harmful CO2 emissions. Through a partnership with Madison County Building & Zoning and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), a newly established Household Hazardous Waste site in Wood River doubled the amount of toxic household chemicals collected last year, including paints, chemicals, batteries, and other hazardous materials that are harmful to the environment and air quality. Another collection event with the IEPA allowed residents of Venice Township, Olive Township and Foster Township to dispose of bulky items not accepted in their residential trash. 

Last but certainly not least, Madison County Building & Zoning awarded more than $142,000 in grant funds to 11 local government agencies for environmental projects, in addition to granting $21,343 to 12 Madison County schools. 

For more on how your organization 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.

Beat the Heat and Stay Informed About Regional Ozone Levels with Air Quality Alerts

A dangerous wave of heat and humidity has made its way across the bi-state area this week with temperatures ranging from 95 to 100+ degrees each afternoon. Heat index values have topped 117, which marks the fourth highest heat index value ever recorded in the region. As a result, the National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for the St. Louis metropolitan area through the end of the week, and likewise, an air quality alert has been in effect since Sunday. 

Area residents may have noticed these alerts appearing on their phone’s weather app every day this week due to the air quality index (AQI) exceeding values of 100. This new feature became available at the start of the air quality forecasting season to inform individuals about the quality of the air they’re breathing and the risks they face. 

“All dissemination services at our disposal receive these air quality alerts,” said Kevin Deitsch, Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service of St. Louis. “That was the idea behind us getting involved since we have the ability to get the word out through multiple channels when the air quality reaches unhealthy levels, and we’re happy to hop on board to keep the public informed. Other weather apps will pull all of our information as well, whether it’s the iPhone app, Weather Channel app, or the local TV station’s weather apps, so it’s effective to provide the added visibility.” 

Using data generated by the Clean Air Partnership’s daily air quality forecasts, the National Weather Service of St. Louis issues the alerts on forecasted orange or red days, which means that maximum ozone concentration is expected to reach levels that pose a serious risk for adverse health effects. High concentrations of ground-level ozone can cause shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, headaches, nausea, and eye and throat irritation. Even in healthy adults, studies have shown that exposure to polluted air can cause decreased lung function. But, children, older adults and those who suffer from lung diseases like emphysema, COPD, asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia are especially vulnerable to ozone pollution. The alerts urge individuals to reduce outdoor physical activity and consider telecommuting, carpooling or utilizing public transit if it’s a regularly scheduled work or school day. They also encourage avoiding excessive idling, not topping off when refueling motor vehicles, and postponing the use of gasoline-powered lawn equipment until late in the day. 

While the Clean Air Partnership shares similar information through its own channels, the collaboration with the National Weather service greatly expands the reach of this important information to a much larger audience. 

“We think it’s great what the Clean Air Partnership does for our community, and so this is a nice way for us to help promote the great work they do with the forecast and share steps the public can take to improve air quality, especially on high ozone days,” Deitsch added. 

For more information about the new air quality alerts and to access the daily forecast, visit the Clean Air Partnership’s website, like us on Facebook or follow @gatewaycleanair on Twitter.




Partners Encourage Area Residents to “Get Back in the Groove” With Transit

As students get ready to head back to school and the workforce settles into more routine schedules, Citizens for Modern Transit (CMT), Metro Transit and St. Clair County Transit District (SCCTD) are encouraging people to get “Back in the Groove” by taking transit to get where they need to go. Those who are new to the public transit system can take advantage of a groovy deal – a free monthly transit pass to give transit a try for their school or workday commute throughout the month of October. Passes are available to the first 250 individuals who register between August 15 and September 15. Registration can be completed at

“As we get back into a more regular routine in the fall, it is a great time to give transit a try,” commented Kim Cella, executive director of Citizens for Modern Transit. “Plus, gas prices continue to fluctuate. This, coupled with parking and vehicle wear and tear, can make the expenses associated with driving quickly add up. Public transit is a convenient and cost-effective way to travel to work and school. According to the American Public Transit Association, a two-person household can save as much as $10,000 annually by downsizing to one car and using public transit. The free monthly pass promotion allows new riders to try out the system and see just how easy it is to utilize.”

Street teams will be downtown and near the Cortex Innovation Center and BJC Health Care in Missouri and locations that will soon be announced in Illinois during the morning commute on Tuesday, Aug. 29, from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. They will be talking to commuters about the benefits of transit and how riders can register to receive a free monthly pass throughout October.

“Get Back in the Groove” is part of the partnering organizations’ ongoing efforts to interact with riders, strengthen relationships and reinforce their collective commitment to a safe, comfortable, customer-focused transit experience. To learn more, visit For more information on the link between sustainable transportation and our air quality, visit the Clean Air Partnership website at, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.