Spotlight On: Missouri Botanical Garden

Founded in 1859, the Missouri Botanical Garden is the nation’s oldest botanical garden in continuous operation and a National Historic Landmark. Serving as a center for botanical research and science education, as well as an oasis in the city of St. Louis, the Garden seeks to inspire and educate area residents about the benefits of being good environmental stewards through responsible and sustainable use of natural resources. The Clean Air Partnership is pleased to shine a spotlight on the Missouri Botanical Garden for its noteworthy green achievements and innovations that are having a positive effect on the environment and helping clear the air in the region. 

During the 2022 St. Louis Green Business Challenge, the Garden earned the esteemed title of Challenge Champion for completing work with the Leader scorecard and committing to continued implementation of deeper sustainability strategies. The Garden also elected to develop and report on their Champion Innovation Project – Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center Showcases Sustainability and Biophilic Design. 

“Missouri Botanical Garden is proud to focus on the Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center as our Champion Innovation Project,” said Glenda Abney, Vice President of Sustainability for the Missouri Botanical Garden. “Years in planning, this gracious new doorway and welcome to the Garden was supported by over $100 million in private donations. The building and grounds embody the Garden’s commitment to sustainability through accessibility, design and presentation and operations.” 

As part of this project, Missouri Botanical Garden optimized their building envelope and mechanical systems to ensure comfort while reducing annual energy costs by 23% from standard technologies. The Garden installed a 220-kWh solar array rooftop in addition to six, free EV charging stations with 10 chargers to promote the use of alternative transportation modes other than gasoline-powered cars. The Garden also implemented new digital displays and electronic ticketing within the new visitor center to reduce the waste of print materials, fulfilling grant requests and internal conservation goals.  

To further reduce environmental impact, the Garden introduced underground cisterns holding 50,000 gallons of rainwater for filtration and sanitization, eliminating municipal-source water treatments for building plant irrigation, as well as low flush and low flow fixtures to reduce building potable water demand by 32%. As a result, indoor and outdoor water management is expected to meet 86% of total site demand, saving an annual average of 679,392 gallons of municipal water use. Additionally, the Garden has planted some 30,000 new specimens and continued the practice of rainscaping plantings, allowing for them to retain 30,000 additional gallons of stormwater on-site. 

For more information on the Missouri Botanical Garden and 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.

Spotlight On: The City of Edwardsville

As the Clean Air Partnership continues to spotlight local municipalities utilizing innovative approaches to create cleaner, greener environments where constituents can live, work and learn, this month we’re pleased to recognize the City of Edwardsville for their long-term commitment to sustainability that shapes city operations and future planning. 

Located just 20 miles outside of the City St. Louis and home to nearly 27,000 residents, Edwardsville has rolled out a number of programs and resources to improve sustainability. For example, the city’s Single-Use Bag Fee Ordinance requires a 10 cent per bag fee for disposable plastic and paper checkout bags at all retail businesses greater than 7,000 square feet to help reduce waste and build a more sustainable community. Since plastic bags are produced from non-renewable resources that are non-biodegradable and difficult to recycle, they often end up as litter in the community and natural environment. And while paper bags are recyclable, they take large amounts of water and energy to produce.  

Additional green improvements that helped earn Edwardsville recognition in the 2022 St. Louis Green Cities Challenge included the construction of a new, environmentally efficient fire station in the heart of the city’s growing eastern corridor. The station features solar panels to offset electricity costs and emissions released into the atmosphere, radiant floor heating to more efficiently and quickly warm bays and dry wet equipment, and bi-fold bay doors that open and close in about a third of the time to speed up emergency egress and limit building heat loss.  

“It is important for every community to pursue sustainability, but as the County Seat, the home of the largest university in the St. Louis region, and the nexus of a growing bicycle pedestrian movement, Edwardsville is uniquely positioned to be a leader in reducing energy consumption, harmful vehicle emissions, and single use waste, while transitioning to more sustainable practices,” said SJ Morrison, 4th Ward Alderman for the City of Edwardsville. 

Moreover, the Good Dirt Community Garden completed its first growing season at Meyer YMCA where community members grew their own vegetables and learned about the importance of composting, which largely benefits air quality. The city also passed two green ordinances – one allowing EV charging stations in all zoning districts and guiding compost bin/pile placement on residential property and the other to ensure that new and redeveloped properties will install lights that do not illuminate above a horizontal plane to reduce light pollution. Lastly, the city held its first ever Trail Summit with Madison County Transit for community leaders to discuss where they want connections in their communities and approved a Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan to promote air quality-friendly ways to get around town. 

For more information on the sustainable efforts underway by the City of Edwardsville 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’swebsite, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair.

Take Action for a Waste-Free World and Cleaner Air in Celebration of World Cleanup Day

On Saturday, September 16th, World Cleanup Day will unite volunteers, governments and organizations in 197 countries and territories to tackle the universal mismanaged waste crisis and to help create a new, more sustainable world. A powerful “green wave” spanning across the globe will harness the power of millions of people taking positive action on the same day, bringing together the global community to raise awareness and implement true change to achieve a one shared goal – a clean and healthy planet. 

Wherever you are in the world, the actions you take for World Cleanup Day in your local community can have a huge impact. Grab a pair of gloves, a few trash bags and organize a cleanup event yourself if there are none close by. If you opt to go this route, invite family and friends to participate and register it as an event here, as every single person’s contribution to the activity counts toward the global total. 

Area residents inspired by World Cleanup Day are encouraged to further make a commitment to practice simple, waste-reducing habits moving forward in all aspects of daily life that are aimed at bettering our environment and the quality of the air we breathe. With that in mind, here are some helpful tips to consider for incorporating green into your day-to-day routine:  

  • Nix Bottled Water – Did you know that up to 80% of single-use water bottles in the U.S. never get recycled? Not only does the production of plastic water bottles contribute significant amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, but their litter lingers for years on end. Consider buying a reusable water bottle to take with you on the go and refill as needed to cut down on unnecessary waste and help improve air quality. 
  • Reduce Waste/Conserve Energy at Home – Swapping out incandescent light bulbs with LEDs, putting timers on lights and investing in smart power strips can help to avoid excessive electricity use. While reducing and reusing are the most effective ways to save money and natural resources, recycling is another vital piece of greening your home by helping to keep waste out of landfills and turning glass, paper, plastic and other items into new materials. Also, consider setting up recycling bins in your home and purchasing recycled products to help clean the air.

  • Go Paperless When Possible – There are many places where you can opt out of paper, whether that be credit card bills, receipts or even your favorite household cleaning products. Paper towels, for example, may be useful and convenient but collectively contribute to deforestation and an ever-increasing waste problem. Signing up for online banking, opting for email versions of receipts, printing on both sides of a sheet or using the back side of old documents for scrap paper are other resourceful ways to reduce paper waste.  

For more great tips on how to achieve cleaner air year-round, visit the Clean Air Partnership’s website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @gatewaycleanair. 

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.

Spotlight On: Hunter Engineering Company

Based in Bridgeton, Mo., Hunter Engineering Company is the world leader in alignment, wheel and tire service, inspection and ADAS calibration equipment. Hunter has offered 75+ years of designing and building automotive service equipment and is a certified veteran-owned business. With sustainability and environmental stewardship at the core of their culture, the company created the Hunter Green Team, which is an employee-led sustainability program that encourages team members across all sites and departments to introduce ideas to enhance sustainability, and their good work doesn’t stop there. 

Hunter is the only company in St. Louis Green Business Challenge history to successfully complete three different achievement levels in three consecutive years (2016-2018). Last year, Hunter Engineering received its third esteemed title of Challenge Champion for completing work with the Leader scorecard and committing to continued implementation of deeper sustainability strategies. 

“2022 was an exciting year of sustainability initiatives at Hunter Engineering Company, including proactive upgrades to our facilities and enhancements within our recycling program,” said Chip Hiemenz, Vice President of Hunter Engineering. “The St. Louis Green Business Challenge provides us with guidance and support to be a more sustainable company, resulting in economic, social and environmental benefits.” 

During the 2022 Challenge, Hunter Engineering replaced over 400 fluorescent, incandescent and HID lighting fixtures with high-efficiency LED fixtures, saving an average of 80 watts per fixture and amassing nearly 35,000 total watts of energy savings. The company also created HVAC schedules to reduce energy usage by 15% utilizing a programmable thermostat, added two extra electronics recycling stations, which collected 10,251 pounds of e-waste last year alone, and continued to enforce a “no-idling” policy for vehicles loading and unloading at their shipping docks to help reduce excess carbon emissions. 

To further reduce environmental impact, Hunter installed a solar energy system generating up to 1 kWh of power in their IT server room and three-layered panels in the building clerestory, doubling insulation R-value of previous panels, and also installed occupancy sensors and created lighting schedules for common areas.  

Other impressive initiatives that earned Hunter Engineering recognition in the Challenge include the construction of rainwater retention systems to mitigate hard surface run-off. In doing so, Hunter now controls peak flow rates of water which fights against property damage and helps remove pollutants. Additionally, the company converted to use of Earth Wise Kraft Napkins to replace a less sustainable alternative and implemented Green Seal certified Diversey J-Fill® Stations for dispensing chemicals. 

To learn more about the sustainable work underway by Hunter Engineering and ways 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.

Climate Change Making It Harder to Breathe and Clean Up Ozone Air Pollution

Scientific research done in recent years has added to the evidence that a changing climate is making it harder to protect human health. These health impacts are a concern for the future, but are also evident right now, as rising global temperatures and disruption of short- and long-term weather continue to play a significant role in making the number of unhealthy ozone days higher than it would otherwise be.

According to the American Lung Association’s latest “State of the Air” report, the three years covered by the report (2019-2021) ranked among the seven hottest years on record globally. High ozone days and spikes in particle pollution related to heat, drought and wildfires are putting millions at risk and adding challenges to the work that states and cities are doing across the nation to clean up air pollution. They are also increasing the severity of pollution, resulting in a sharp rise in the number of days when the air quality poses an elevated risk of negative health effects. More than 30% of the nation’s population is exposed to high levels of ozone on enough days to earn the air they breathe a failing grade.

We just have to look at air quality in recent weeks to see firsthand the impact of wildfires alone, with smoke from the Canadian wildfires causing some of the worst air quality ever in New York and other U.S. cities, and also negatively impacting the air quality right here in the St. Louis region several days this summer.

While anyone who spends time outdoors where ozone pollution levels are high may be in danger, some people face a higher-than-average risk because of their underlying health and other characteristics. These populations include pregnant people and fetuses, children, anyone 65 and older, people with existing lung diseases such as asthma and COPD, and those who work or exercise outdoors.

To help keep these individuals and other St. Louisans 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 all summer long to let area residents 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. This is especially important on orange or red ozone action days, which we’ve seen an excess of this season.

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.

Spotlight On: Bethesda Health Group

Bethesda Health Group is a nonprofit, St. Louis-based senior living, care, and service organization providing a continuum of residential and care options for area seniors and their families for over 130 years. With an added commitment to sustainability, the company’s noteworthy green advancements are having a positive effect on the environment and helping clear the air in St. Louis region. 

Bethesda Health Group has been an active participant in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge since 2013. Last year, the Bethesda facilities team focused on continuing energy-efficient upgrades to equipment throughout the organization as a best practice for scheduled and necessary replacements. As a result, the company earned the esteemed title of Challenge Champion for completing work with the Leader scorecard and committing to continued implementation of deeper sustainability strategies.  

“Investments included hot water boilers, apartment heating and cooling equipment, window replacements, LED lighting in our apartments, and a cooling tower,” said Joseph J. Brinker, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bethesda Health Group. “I continue to be very proud that our entire organization has embraced the need for prioritizing energy efficient practices, and that we have continued to implement this strategy so effectively.” 

During the 2022 Challenge, Bethesda Health replaced over 30 HVAC units across its facilities with more energy efficient units. Additionally, the company upgraded its Delta Building Control Software so that equipment uses less energy, installed new hot water boilers with more energy efficient units at the Southgate and Meadow locations, upgraded water heaters to increase efficiency at the Orchard location, and upgraded the dining room heat pump and installed a new and more efficient cooling tower at the Barclay House location.  

Furthermore, Bethesda Health Group continued upgrades to LED lighting in apartments, coupling energy efficiency investments throughout all buildings with scheduled apartment renovations, and opted for a company-wide upgrade of holiday lights to LED lights. Doing so provides many environmental advantages since LED lights are up to 80% more energy efficient than fluorescent and incandescent lights and produce zero toxic elements. The company also continued replacement of windows and glass to use less energy for heating and cooling at their Orchard location, in addition to caulking the building exterior to reduce air infiltration. 

The Clean Air Partnership is pleased to recognize the efforts of businesses such as Bethesda Health that continue to take action for cleaner air by channeling their time and energy towards practicing sustainability. For more 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.

Commuters Encouraged to “Dump the Pump” on June 15 for Opportunity to Win Prizes

Campaign Reinforces the Benefits of Taking Transit and Incentivizes People to Give it a Try

Public transit is the region’s “golden ticket” to a safe, more cost-effective and hassle-free way for St. Louis area residents to get where they need to go. To help reinforce this message, Citizens for Modern Transit (CMT), Metro Transit and St. Clair County Transit District (SCCTD) are encouraging area commuters to give transit a try on Thursday, June 15, which is National Dump the Pump Day. Those who take transit that day will witness the benefits of this viable commuting option and be eligible to win prizes. With transportation-related emissions being one of the biggest contributors to air pollution, taking public transportation is also a great way to reduce harmful auto emissions to help keep the air quality in healthy ranges.

Nearly 100 branded envelopes touting “Dump the Pump to Win. Public Transit is your Golden Ticket.” will be hidden on MetroLink, MetroBuses, Metro Call-A-Ride and SCCTD’s Flyer Service vehicles, as well as at Metro Transit Centers on both sides of the river. Each will have a prize enclosed, as well as information about the many benefits of taking transit and the availability of CMT’s Try & Ride Program, which provides new riders, who are unfamiliar with the transit system, with complimentary transit tickets for one month, giving riders time to get on board and learn the system. Those who find a “Golden Ticket” inside an envelope will have captured one of the grand prizes, including a $100 gift card to Amazon, one year’s worth of free transit, four St. Louis Riverboat Cruise tickets, and two tickets to the St. Louis Cardinals game against the Washington Nationals on July 15. Other prizes range from free daily and monthly fare passes to gift cards to establishments accessible via the MetroLink system.

Transit ambassadors will also be at the Shrewsbury-Lansdowne I-44, Clayton, Brentwood I-64, Maplewood, Belleville, Fairview Heights and Emerson Park Transit Centers from 7 to 8:30 a.m. on June 15 handing out PAYDAY candy bars with a QR code that allows commuters to calculate the cost savings associated with taking public transit.

“Gas, parking prices, vehicle maintenance and car insurance are costly,” commented Kimberly Cella, executive director of Citizen for Modern Transit. “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. This campaign is designed to help St. Louisans better understand these and the many other benefits of public transit and its ability to get them where they need to go. Transit can be your own personal payday each day.”

To learn more, visit For more information on the link between sustainable transportation and air quality, visit the Clean Air Partnership’s website at