Maintain the Momentum: St. Louis as a Climate Leader

By Mary Ann Lazarus,
Chair, Board of Directors,
USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter

It’s been an important year for fostering green buildings in the St. Louis region and I’m very proud that our USGBC- Missouri Gateway Chapter has played a pivotal role. From existing buildings to new construction, buildings play a crucial role in meeting the urgent challenge of climate change. According to the Energy Information Administration, buildings in the United States are responsible for over 40% of national greenhouse gas emissions. The City of St. Louis’s 2015 greenhouse gas inventory revealed that local impacts are much higher; residential and commercial buildings are responsible for over 60% of greenhouse gas emissions. 

With the latest Special Report from the International Panel on Climate Change and the recently-released Fourth National Climate Assessment Report, it’s even more clear that the critical time for climate action is now. I want to share some of our 2018 accomplishments today and invite you to join us in the work ahead.

Benchmarking energy and water use continues to be front and center following the old adage “you can’t improve what you don’t measure.” We played a major role in educating building owners and managers on the benchmarking requirements after last year’s passage of the City of St. Louis’ Building Energy Awareness Ordinance. In 2018, The Chapter held 22 Benchmarking Trainings serving over 200 building representatives. In addition, our work in Better Buildings through Benchmarking (www.BetterBuildingsStl.org) continues to grow with benchmarking assistance to municipalities in St. Louis County, schools, and congregations.

The Chapter also actively participated in the City of St. Louis’ selection for the 20 Bloomberg Philanthropies’ America Cities Climate Challenge. Along with multiple partners, we also helped advocate for the successful adoption of the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for the City of St. Louis which will help drive energy efficiency for all new construction and major renovation. Both of these issues are important to our goals of reducing emissions and improving health and wellness for our region.

But wait, there’s more! Our Missouri Gateway Chapter embarked on a brand new collaboration this year with the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), the creators of the Living Building Challenge (LBC). We now house the St. Louis Regional Collaborative of ILFI. All this has been happening while our ongoing programs continued to provide excellent educational opportunities from inspirational to in-depth.
Finally, once again we had another tremendous year with our Green Schools Quest where we paired 57 school-mentor teams for the 2017-18 school year. Over 5,000 students and staff participated in sustainability projects reaching an additional 30,000 community members. And participation in the 2018-19 school year is our highest levels yet!

As you can tell, your USGBC – Missouri Gateway Chapter has been very busy putting into action our mission of “transforming the built environment” for our region. Join us to celebrate these accomplishments and learn about the work ahead at our 2019 State of the Chapter and Social on Thursday, January 24, 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the Missouri History Museum (5700 Lindell Blvd, 63112). This event is free to all, but registration is requested. Learn more and register online at www.usgbc-mogateway.org