A Look Back at 15 years of Green Building, a Look Forward to the Work Ahead

By Johanna Schweiss,
USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator

Fifteen years ago, 15 dedicated volunteers came together to form an organization dedicated to green building education and advocacy, to making every building a green building, because they knew that Green Buildings Are Better.

In honor of this milestone, the U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter’s interactive Green Buildings Are Better display has been traveling throughout the region collecting your comments about how green buildings are better for living, working, learning, and playing. I thought I’d share a few highlights with you today.
Green buildings are better because “45% of U.S. emissions come from residential and commercial building operation – every green building counts!”

Green buildings use less energy, and consequently produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions and contribute less to global climate change. Nationally, energy used in buildings is responsible for almost half of our greenhouse gas emissions, and in the City of St. Louis commercial and residential buildings are the source of almost 70% of greenhouse gas emissions (according to their 2010 greenhouse gas inventory). Buildings are an important piece of any effective climate action. Though reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings may seem like a challenge, in reality it is a huge opportunity!
Green buildings are better because “They cost less to operate”

All buildings, no matter how they were originally built, can become greener by pursuing energy efficiency strategies. According to the EPA, the average building wastes 30% of the energy it consumes due to inefficiencies. Many energy efficiency measures are possible through low and no cost operational improvements and both Ameren Missouri and Laclede Gas offer financial incentives for energy efficiency measures, making improvements even more cost effective. No matter where you start, there are energy and cost savings to realize.

Green buildings are better for business and the bottom line beyond just their low energy and water usage. According to a recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health, people that working in green certified buildings have higher cognitive function scores and fewer health symptoms. And green construction creates jobs; a 2015 Green Building Economic Impact study found that by 2018 green construction in Missouri will account for more than 190,000 jobs and will generate over $11 billion in labor earnings. 
Green buildings are better because “They help provide a sustainable future.”

Beyond energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, green buildings are better because they consume less water, they are healthier places for the people inside, they provide habitat and manage stormwater onsite, they purchase and dispose of materials responsibly, and so much more. In essence, they steward resources for future generations.
As we look forward to the next 15 years, I hope you join us in our work to make every building a green building. For the sake of our economy, for the sake of our environment, for the sake of our future.

Learn how you can get involved at www.greenbuildingsarebetter.org or plan to attend our 2017 State of the Chapter and Social on January 10, 2017.

Visit www.usgbc-mogateway.org to learn more.