Sustainable St. Louis Promotes Regional Approach to ‘Sustainable’ Initiatives

By Matt Robbins


In the summer of 2007, a group of representatives from leading St. Louis community and government organizations came together to harness their shared passion to work toward a sustainable future for the region’s environment. The St. Louis region needed an organization to serve as the “connective tissue,” promoting issues of sustainability. The synergies of these discussions led to the creation of Sustainable St. Louis and to a dedication of the organization’s mission towards advancing region-wide sustainability.


Sustainability awareness is becoming part of the national consciousness. Individuals and communities throughout the U.S. are initiating comprehensive programs to reduce their environmental footprints, and the concept of the triple bottom line – “people, profit, planet” – has taken hold. Businesses, facing growing demand from customers and employees to be green, are integrating environmental concepts into their day-to-day operations including:

• Improving the energy efficiency of operations through investment in energy-monitoring tools and educating the workforce in green practices.

• Conducting business in ways that reduce waste and pursuing green purchasing programs.

• Consideration of renewable energy sources to power operations by investing in solar and wind, or by buying Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) or Verified Emission Reductions (VERs) to offset and reduce their carbon footprint.

• Designing new buildings and retrofitting existing buildings to green standards.


Throughout the St. Louis region, nonprofits, companies, communities and schools are engaging in groundbreaking sustainability programs. Sustainable St. Louis is looking to coordinate a regional approach to sustainability, leverage the impacts of these efforts and measure their progress.


Sustainable St. Louis is planning two important initiatives to further regional coordination.  One initiative, targeting the St. Louis region as a whole, is the STAR Community Index.  The index is currently being developed by ICLEI –a national association of local governments committed to sustainability.  Such standards will help communities across the nation determine the environmental benchmarks to work toward (in areas like air pollution, land use, solid waste, etc.) when developing their sustainability goals.


For the second initiative, Sustainable St. Louis partnered with the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association (RCGA) to create The St. Louis Green Business Challenge, focusing on encouraging individual businesses to participate in the move towards sustainability.  Patterned after a similar program in Chicago, the Green Business Challenge will help participating businesses measure their current sustainable practices, scored across a host of different dimensions.  The businesses will then have the opportunity to earn awards based on progress in implementing strategies allowing them to increase the sustainability of their operations.