Reflecting On Green Building Success In 2019

By Richard Schuessler, Chair,
USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Board of Directors

It’s been another important year for green buildings in the St. Louis region. We at the U.S. Green Building Council-Missouri Gateway Chapter have continued to play a vital role in continuing the greening of our region. I want to share some of our collective accomplishments, initiatives, and successes from this past year.

Our Green Schools Quest continues to thrive, making a significant impact with an estimated 30,000 students, staff and community members throughout the St. Louis region connecting with projects. Nearly 3,500 students and staff from 59 participating schools implemented sustainability projects ranging from native plant gardens, food composting and zero waste initiatives to energy audits, stormwater management projects, and raising awareness about single-use plastic (and so much more). We have paired 69 school-mentor teams for the 2019-2020 school year and look forward to even more student-driven sustainability success.

The green schools work is expanding through a partnership with the Missouri Environmental Education Association (MEEA). With support provided by the Missouri Foundation for Health, we are excited to work with MEEA and partners to further develop the Missouri Green Schools program, which will help guide and recognize schools across the state as they work towards greener, healthier schools and students and provide individualized assistance to schools in underserved urban and rural areas.

Every year, our education programming gets better and better. If you have never attended or haven’t attended recently, you are missing out. We welcomed visionary and lifecycle analysis expert, Gregory Norris, to talk about Handprints (our positive impact on the environment). A trio of programs this summer highlighted the great green building work happening locally: Regional Green Building Challenges & Successes, Green Building Slam, and Green Building Tour of St. Louis Community College’s Nursing and Health Science Center. Programs on Net Zero Carbon, Energy & Water and Biophilic Design incorporated restorative and living building concepts.

The partnership we have with the City of St. Louis to support their benchmarking and energy efficiency work, including their participation in the American Cities Climate Challenge, continued in 2019. In addition to Benchmarking 101 training and drop in help sessions, we launched a new program. The first Benchmarking & Energy Efficiency Carousel in March sold out, prompting a second one in May. The Carousel connects building owners and operators with resources to improve operations and reduce energy use. This year, we have also held four Green Professional Building Skills (GPRO) Operations & Maintenance two-day certificate trainings.

We were thrilled to host USGBC’s President and CEO Mahesh Ramanujam this summer as part of USGBC’s LEED v4.1 Roadshow. The day started at Washington University in St. Louis and progressed to the Missouri Botanical Garden. Mahesh awarded LEED Gold plaques to the Gateway Arch’s Visitor Center & Museum and to the Missouri Historical Society’s Soldiers Memorial Military Museum. It was a great opportunity to highlight some of the fantastic green buildings in St. Louis to the highest leadership of USGBC.

We are excited for 2020 and look forward to making an even bigger impact on our region – because Green Buildings Are Better for people, for the planet, and for our pocket books! I hope you’ll join us.