Urgency & Resolve in the Face of US Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

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

The USGBC-Missouri Gateway is deeply disappointed in the administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

Our regional green building work is now even more urgent. For over 15 years, the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter has been educating on the importance of climate action and greenhouse gas emissions reduction, supporting building designers, building operators, local governments, and concerned citizens to reduce their environmental impacts. We’ve been advocating for green building policies that conserve natural resources, reduce costs, and improve human health.

It will take continued work at all scales – from regional and local governments to buildings to individuals – to make a difference.

Our Regional Environmental Internship Program has supported six local governments to complete greenhouse gas inventories and climate action plans. To date Richmond Heights, Wildwood, Maplewood, Brentwood, and Creve Coeur have released greenhouse gas inventories and climate action plans, while University City’s greenhouse gas inventory and climate action plan are in progress. And other municipalities have completed Greenhouse Gas Inventories and Climate Action Plans outside of this internship program, including Clayton, Edwardsville, Columbia, the City of St. Louis, and more. At this time, local and regional climate action leadership is more important than ever.

As a sponsor and planning partner of the OneSTL Sustainability Summit, we eagerly support the regional greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals that stakeholders proposed during the post-summit workshop, which align with the Paris Agreement goals. We look forward to working with our friends and colleagues to continue to support local and regional governments to understand and reduce their communities’ greenhouse gas emissions.

The City of St. Louis’s 2015 greenhouse gas emissions inventory revealed that buildings are responsible for almost 80% of the City’s emissions (http://bit.ly/2rsUPzn). Nationally, building energy use is credited with almost 40% of US greenhouse gas emissions (US Department of Energy). The first step to reduce building energy use and the resulting emissions is energy benchmarking. This process reveals how a building’s energy performance compares to similar buildings and helps building managers understand the potential for energy and cost savings.
Our 25/20 Voluntary Energy Benchmarking Campaign has engaged over 80 building owners and operators to commit to benchmark their building energy use. And our leadership were instrumental in the passage of the City of St. Louis’ Building Energy Awareness Ordinance, which requires owners of large buildings to benchmark and submit their energy and water use annually. Attend one of our regularly scheduled Benchmarking Jams to get hands-on help with energy benchmarking.

With urgency and resolve, we will continue the important work. We hope you join us in our work to transform the built environment and speed our transition to a low carbon economy.