A Division of the Missouri Botanical Garden

2009 EarthWays Green Homes Festival

The EarthWays Center of the Missouri Botanical Garden is a group devoted to an increasingly vital goal: conservation of energy and other natural resources for the future, otherwise known as “sustainability” - meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

“As a division of Missouri Botanical Garden, we embrace the Garden’s mission of protecting and preserving plants, but with a slightly different approach,” said Glenda Abney, director of the EarthWays Center. While the Garden is a botanical institution focusing on plants themselves, the EarthWays Center zeros in on what botanical researchers agree is the greatest threat to plants and the environment: people.

“Our focus is helping people understand how their behavior impacts plants, and in turn how it affects the entire environment,” said Abney. “We promote sustainability through environmental education and improving the built environment. By educating people about our dependence on plants and the natural resources that support plant communities, we are teaching adults and youth to value and protect the things that sustain our families and communities.”

EarthWays Center staff work directly with the general public and other audiences, including kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) educators and students, college and university students, instructors, staff and community educators. They also work with green building professionals, auditors, contractors, businesses and local municipality leaders, with the goal of improving the built environment. Offering expertise on a wide range of sustainable-living topics, staff is in demand for speaking engagements, participation in public events and as spokespeople for the media.

The EarthWays Center currently offers many programs and projects, including:

  • K-12 presentations covering topics such as recycling, energy and air quality, building improvement coordination and comprehensive teacher professional development
  • College and university presentations and sustainability project coordination through a campus sustainability network supporting ongoing, varied greening efforts at these facilities
  • Summer youth camps, engaging students in “green dream house” planning and design
  • Special events, including the Green Homes and Great Health Festival in September showcasing green products and services
  • Adult and family classes offered year-round, covering topics ranging from energy efficient home improvements to composting to backyard chickens
  • Contractor training and certification in whole building science
  • Promotion and coordination of residential energy audit programs for homeowners
  • Resource advice on the greening of businesses
  • Extensive sustainability policy and practice consultation with businesses
  • Green Homes education and support for homeowners and builders
  • Coordination of the U. S. Green Building Council’s Missouri Gateway Chapter, with its goal to transform commercial and residential building practices; and much more
Bee keeper

Another aspect of the EarthWays Center's work is the technical and quality assurance management of local, regional and state energy efficiency programs for utility companies and governments. Presently, staff are working with Atmos Energy on an out-state Missouri rebate program.

One of the EarthWays Center’s most popular offerings is the Green Resources Answer Service– anyone can call or e-mail with questions related to green resources, and the Green Resources Manager will help them find the answer.

“People ask, ‘What can I do to make my home more energy efficient? Where do I take my recyclable items? What can I do about indoor air quality?’ and we provide answers and resources,” said Abney.

Useful tips and local product and service sources can be found online at www.mobot.org/sustainability. The EarthWays Green Resources Answer Service is available at greenresources@mobot.org or (314) 577-0246.

In late 2010, the EarthWays Center moved from its previous location at 3617 Grandel Square to the Missouri Botanical Garden’s campus. Existing EarthWays Center programs and projects have continued, and will expand the Garden’s voice in the community as innovative leaders in promoting sustainability in the St. Louis region.

Recycled Silverware

“This is a great opportunity to bring the sustainability messages of the EarthWays Center to the Garden and make them available to more than 970,000 annual Garden visitors,” said Dr. Peter Wyse Jackson, president of the Missouri Botanical Garden. “This move strengthens the Garden’s commitment to showcasing how one’s choices and behaviors impact the environment and plant conservation.”

The EarthWays Center’s new location is 4651 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, Mo. 63110, in the Garden’s Commerce Bank Center for Science Education building. For more information about the EarthWays Center, call (314) 577-0220 or visit www.mobot.org/sustainability.