Sustainablity News

It is with enormous pleasure that I share exciting St. Louis sustainability news: 
The City is a Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge winner! 

Twenty cities across the country are being selected by Bloomberg Philanthropies to participate in a two-year acceleration program to implement bold climate action at the local level. Through this Bloomberg climate award, the City will have the opportunity to bring on a City Advisor and tap into $2.5 Million worth of technical resources to implement climate action in the coming two years.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis Business Journal and St. Louis Public Radio all ran short pieces on the news.

The City will be working with Bloomberg Philanthropies in the coming weeks to refine its proposed two-year work plan, but we anticipate grant efforts will focus on taking climate actions in both the Buildings and Transportation sectors, which account for 97% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout the community.

It makes sense to leverage existing climate successes (such as the City's successful Energy Benchmarking and Set The PACE St. Louis financing programs) to really optimize efforts so they result in significant impact.

We also plan to use this grant to be strategic about how to best galvanize solar energy efforts, and gain traction on the use of electric vehicles in the region. 

The City has established a strong foundation with its climate protection efforts (such as by conducting GHG emissions inventories and developing a Climate Action & Adaptation Plan), and the City has shown it can develop and launch successful climate programs and policies (such as by passing new Building Code requirements and promoting alternative modes of transportation).

Mayor Krewson has been a strong voice among Climate Mayors, who have committed to taking climate action despite the Trump Administration's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. 

The American Cities Climate Challenge application process was not a small undertaking, and pulling together all of the components would not have been possible without the expertise and contributions of several City departments (especially BPS and the Building Division), and community partners (including the USGBC Gateway Chapter, Washington University Office of Sustainability and Ameren).

Together we produced a winning application, and I'm confident that together we will effect winning outcomes for both the people and environment of St. Louis. 

Other Sustainability Shout Outs:

The Missouri Green Schools program was founded by the Missouri Environmental Education Association in 2016 and is coordinated by Jan Weaver. The mission of the program is to celebrate the environmental sustainability, health and learning accomplishments of Missouri schools.

Schools can be recognized through nomination for a Missouri Green Ribbon School award. The 2018recipients of Missouri Green Ribbon status included St. Louis University High School (SLUH). SLUH has four Sustainability Student Teams.

These teams worked together to decrease waste and energy streams, and increase awareness for sustainable food through the Iron Chef SLUH  competition, as well as raise $1200 for the St. Patrick's Center. Curriculum has also been upgraded to include a Human Geography class which teaches students how to confront and resist a "throw-away culture."

During a Tour of current and former Green Ribbon Schools, I had the chance to visit both SLUH and Crossroads Preparatory School, and learn more about their efforts.

If you would like to learn more about green schools, please consider reaching out to USGBC Missouri Gateway to learn about their Green Schools Quest.

Hats off to these students and educators for their wonderful sustainability efforts, and we hope to see more St. Louis schools honored as Green Ribbon Schools in the near future.

Get Involved & Engage In Sustainability:

Check out the new interactive and GPS enabled map of Tower Grove Park, which even sports a tree finder to use on your next visit to the park.

Give feedback on the Community Development Administration 2019 Action Plan at the public hearing on November 8th at 5:30pm (1520 Market St). Written comments accepted until November 12th at 12:00 pm.

The Saint Louis Zoo is looking for Docents: Schedule an interview, contact (314) 646-4723. Learn more about the Zoo's Docent program and training.

Nurses and nursing students: learn how climate change impacts human health at the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments' workshop on November 17th from 8:30am-4:30pm. Food provided, travel scholarships available.

The Regional Arts Commission is seeking input on A Creative Vision for St. Louis. You can share your feedback on ARTS & through the RAC website.

Biomimicry Youth Design Challenge 2018/19 registration is open. In this global competition, students design bio-inspired solutions to fight climate change.

Attend a STL Sustainability Event: 

(All events free & held in the City)

Brightside will hold a community clean-up day with the North Newstead Association on November 3 from 10:00am-1:00 pm. Email: to participate.

Trailnet will hold a slow roll Bike Ride to the Soldier's Memorial Grant Reopening Ceremony on November 3; register for the ride at 9:00am at Urban Chestnut's Midtown Brewery, 3229 Washington Avenue.

Award-winning author and educator, Debbie S. Miller, will speak on Exploring Alaska's Prince Williams Sound on November 7th 7:00pm-8:30pm at the Zoo.

Gateway Greening Educator Workshop: Keeping Momentum through the Winter, November 8, 5:30-6:30pm 3815 Bell Ave. 

UMSL's World Ecology Center will hold its Conservation Forum on Traditional Ecological Knowledge at the Saint Louis Zoo on November 8th from 5:30-9:00pm. Dinner is provided. RSVP by emailing or calling 314-516-4246.

The National Coalition of 100 Black Women will host a S.T.E.A.M Fair for K-12 students on November 10th, 10:00am-3:00pm, Youth and Family Center, 818 Cass Ave.

Groups are hosting an America Recycles Day Celebration in Forest Park- "Recycle Responsibly: The Truth About Plastic Bags" on November 15th, 8:00am-4:00pm.

Washington University School of Medicine is offering free bike tune-ups at the WUSM Farmers Market on November 15th from 10:00am-2:00pm.

USGBC will offer an Energy Benchmarking 101 seminar on November 29th, 2018, 12:00pm-5:00pm. Registration required.

Though not held in the City, I will be on a Science and Public Policy Panel at UMSL on November 30th from 6:00pm- 7:30pm. 

Forest Park Forever will hold a Beginners Bird Walk in Forest Park on December 1st from 8:15am-10:30am.

Please continue reading for a One Planet Corner piece showcasing the City's urban forestry efforts. As always, thank you for all you to do advance sustainability in the City of St. Louis.

The One Planet Corner

Connecting St. Louis sustainability efforts with global issues
The City's Forestry Division: Branching Out & Taking Root
By Morgan Geile

Within the City's Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department there are 41 dedicated staff that maintain the City's Urban Forest. Of that amount, there are 8 Certified Arborists. The Forestry Division, led by Commissioner Alan Jankowski, maintains both street trees and park trees, contends with weed control on vacant lots.

The Forestry Division's administration consists of Customer Service Representatives and the Executive Assistant that assures the service requests that are submitted to the Citizen Service Bureau are processed and inspected in a timely manner for the citizens.

The Customer Service Representatives on a daily basis speak to numerous citizens and their concerns of city trees. The Forestry Division also provides free organic materials (like wood chips and compost) at pick-up sites for City residents to use in their yards and gardens. 

The Forestry Division's Forest Park Arboriculture Crew (FPAC) has a strong presence in Forest Park, and works with Forest Park Forever to support forest stand improvement, conduct controlled burns, and manage areas to keep Forest Park safe and healthy. The FPAC also participates in community donations and education.

Over the last 4 years, the crew has collected seeds from trees grown in Forest Park, propagated them during winter, and given them out during the Earth Day Festival. They have given away over 225 trees already! 

In addition, when trees must be taken down for safety or hazard mitigation purposes, the wood does not go to waste. The Arboriculture Crew cuts the logs up into "tree cookies" and stumps that are then provided to outdoor classrooms at local pre and elementary schools.

Mann Elementary, Woerner Elementary, and Kennard Classical Jr. Academy are some schools to have recently received tree cookie stumps for seating. To quote one parent preschool supervisor at KCJA, the tree cookies "allowed our preschoolers a chance to interact with natural elements in their daily play.

I personally enjoyed watching them investigate the different types of bark, pick up the stumps and watch the insects underneath, use the stumps as seats and surprisingly they most enjoyed rolling them around."

Tree cookies are also provided for Forest Park Forever educational programs and for the Fall Family Fun Fest. The FPAC is dedicated to keeping the trees in our community healthy, and ensuring removed trees go on to continue supporting the children in that same community.

On an annual basis, between the months of November and March, the availability of free wood is offered to the citizens of St. Louis at 3 convenient locations. This wood comes from the removal of dead or structurally damaged trees from City trees and parks. Firewood from the numerous downed trees is utilized at Art Hill, Steinberg Rink and for the annual hayrides through Forest Park.

The Forestry Division has been a key participant in the City's Partners for Places (P4P) Green Infrastructure grant from The Funders' Network. Along with Forest ReLeaf, the Forestry Division helped orchestrate four Community Tree Planting events in City parks this year (Barrett Brothers Park, Fairground Park, Marquette Park Minnie Woods Park).

That P4P grant resulted in 500 new trees being planted during 2018 in areas of the City where they would become community amenities, as well as environmental assets.

The Forestry Division is also on the front lines when it comes to fiercely battling the infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), an invasive beetle that showed up in the US near Detroit in 2002 and in Missouri in 2008. It wasn't long before the beetle made its way into St. Louis. As of now, the EAB has been found in 35 states, and 5 Canadian provinces, and has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees.

The Forestry Division has been active for the last several years removing Ash trees that are weak and/or dying before they became dangerous, mapping Ash tree locations, and treating particularly large or removing smaller healthy Ash trees before they can be killed by the beetle.

Dead and decaying trees present a dangerous hazard to surrounding people and property. You can learn about the EAB and stay updated on thenational EAB status here.

International Forestry

 The proper management of forests is also a global issue. Many forests around the world are being cleared to make way for agriculture and pasture land.

This typically results in huge losses of biodiversity as the species-rich forests are used only as grazing pastures or replanted with monoculture crops (such as palm oil plantations).

In addition, deforestation can lead to disruptions in hydrological cycles as forests contribute significantly to regulating the water cycle. Some pulp mills in Brazil have even reported changes to micro-climate in the form of disrupted rainfall patterns as a potential result of this meaning losses in productivity for the pulp industry. Cutting down forests releases upwards of 15% of global CO2 emissions.

When trees are felled, they release the carbon they were sequestering. Despite the daunting task of combating massive deforestation and improperly managed forests, there are many international reforestation efforts underway.

What can you do?

The Forestry Division partners with Forest ReLeaf in their tree planting and EAB efforts. These activities include injecting large healthy trees with an organic botanical treatment every two years and replacing removed trees with one of 40 different species native to Missouri that appear unaffected by the pest.

They are always looking for volunteers, and you can get involved in replanting trees in your area.

Residents can play their part in preventing the spread of the beetle and staying safe around infected trees. For instance, the beetle is most commonly spread through the movement of firewood.

The beetles could be present in the wood, and inadvertently spread to new areas with the movement of firewood, particularly if transported over long distances. This ignited campaigns such as the "buy it where you burn it" campaign encouraging local firewood use to prevent transport of potentially infected firewood.

One thing you can do in order to support sustainable forestry efforts is to buy wood and paper products that are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)  certified. An FSC-labeled product has come from a forest and supply chain that is managed responsibly. You might recognize the logo of a little tree with a check mark.

The FSC provides guidance for sustainably and socially responsible forestry management all over the world, so keep an eye out for it in order to support companies that are committed to using sustainably sourced materials.

Another way individuals can help without leaving their desk is through Ecosia. Ecosia is a German-based web search engine that is dedicated to using its advertizing profits to plant trees and promote reforestation all over the world.

Since Ecosia launched in 2009, it has donated 80% of its profits to plant over 40 million trees.

Ecosia is transparent in reporting where their money donations go, and showing tree planting receipts, as well as providing information on how they count how many trees they have planted (e.g., only counting trees that have survived to at least their 3rd year).

Next time you are searching the internet, head first so that your search can help generate more trees around the world.

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