Promoting Green Buildings For 20 Years In St. Louis Area

By Hannah Roth
2021 Chair, Board of Directors
USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter

2021 has been a significant year for the St. Louis region and the global community. This is our 20th year catalyzing green and healthy places. We at the U.S. Green Building Council-Missouri Gateway Chapter continue to play a vital role in the greening of our region. We look forward to serving you and our community for another 20 years.

Our work providing important educational and networking opportunities never stops! In 2021, we continued hosting every other week “coffee breaks” to bring our green building community together for discussion on green building hot topics. Together with evening programs, we hosted 28 educational events on a wide variety of topics, including our annual green building (virtual) tour of Washington University’s East End Campus transformation, an excellent panel discussion on Environmental Injustice in St. Louis, and Sustainability Week in partnership with the Resource Center of AIA-St. Louis!

We are extremely proud of our work with pre-K-12 schools. The Green Schools Quest continues to support schools, students and teachers that aim to make their school greener through action oriented sustainability projects. We are grateful for all the schools and volunteer Green Mentors that participate in the Quest every year, moving us towards a vision of making every school a green school within this generation. At left is a mason bee house constructed of recycled materials by Quest participants at Mann Elementary School (St. Louis Public Schools).

Along with the Green Schools Quest, we continue to partner with the Missouri Environmental Education Association to pilot the Missouri Green Schools program. This program is a tracking and recognition program for early childhood through 12th grade schools in Missouri. Many new resources have been developed to support participating schools and this year 20 schools enrolled and 6 earned the Sprout Level of recognition. You’ll be hearing from the local Green Ribbon School Flance Early Learning Center, supported by the Missouri Green Schools Program, at our Annual State of the Chapter on January 11.

We are very excited to launch a new initiative this year – the Building Energy Exchange – St. Louis (BE-Ex STL). This is an outgrowth of our work to support the City of St. Louis’ energy efficiency efforts, including the Building Energy Performance Standard (BEPS), which passed in 2020 and still remains the only performance standard adopted in the Midwest. In September, we hired Cara Spencer as the director of BE-Ex STL, which has a mission to advance building energy performance by mobilizing the professional expertise, funding, and technical resources the real estate industry needs to address affordability, improve the health and comfort of residents, and position St. Louis as a resilient and carbon neutral region. We are excited to have Cara on board to assist building owners in the City comply with BEPS!

Internally, we have spent much of the year working on an update to our Strategic Plan. This effort started at the end of 2019, but we realized that with the onslaught of COVID and the social upheaval during the spring and summer 2020, we needed to pause and start over in order to put a plan in place that truly addresses the most pressing issues of our work. So we move forward with a commitment to the most pressing issues before us – climate change and racial equity.

With the recent publication of the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) report and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) this past fall in Glasgow, we feel a renewed urgency and desire to be a positive force for change in our region. Following the science, there are now international and national goals to further reduce carbon emissions by 2030, which is not very far away. We see an immediate role that we can play by offering topics in our educational programs such as Net Zero Energy, embodied carbon in buildings and building materials, and retrofitting our older buildings and structures to be more efficient. Through our education, we want to enable our members to become experts on these topics.

In our advocacy work, we know that our messages are stronger when they come from a collaboration of organizations. So we are working to build even better relationships with other local, like-minded groups in the building industry to pursue environmental, climate and social justice changes.

With so much important work ahead of us, we hope you will consider getting involved. We can use your engagement as a member, a committee volunteer, and a donor! Please join us by supporting our work this year. We can’t get there without each of you.

DONATE NOW! www.usgbc-mogateway.org/donations/

Thank you!
Hannah Roth
2021 Chair, Board of Directors
USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter