Response to St. Louis Business Journal: LEED Gets It Right

Emily 1Nick Bristow-headshotEmily Andrews, Executive Director of the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter, and Nick Bristow, Senior Associate and Sustainability Manager at Forum Studio and Board Chair of the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter, responded to the St. Louis Business Journal’s August 18 cover story on the LEED green building rating system in a commentary piece titled LEED gets it right. Read on for their full response. 

 

The Aug. 18 cover story on the LEED green building rating system missed the bigger picture. Green building rates in the St. Louis region may not measure up to the top five LEED national markets, but as your article points out, we are keeping pace with and even outpacing cities of similar size and demographics. By looking at just a single year of data, however, you are discrediting previous years of successful LEED projects in our region. More importantly, you missed the opportunity to recognize the local architects, engineers, contractors, consultants, owners and occupants who have championed buildings that conserve natural resources and support the health of humans and the planet. The St. Louis region has seen a consistent number of LEED certified projects annually between 2011 and 2016, even as the rating system has become more rigorous. Since 2000, 190 commercial and institutional buildings have achieved LEED certification. Our mission is to accelerate the implementation of green building principles for all. While every building cannot be a LEED building, these 190 buildings have provided a real-life, local case study and framework for our community to follow. And really, when it comes down to it, we are not out to compete with other cities, but to work within our own community to improve our buildings.

 

LEED continues to be the international benchmark in green building, designed to incorporate continuous improvement, evolve and raise the bar as building technology improves. According to a 2017 Department of Energy study, LEED- and Energy Star-certified buildings improve net operating income by 28.8 percent and reduce operating costs by 17.6 percent. We cannot be content to merely track levels of certification or the numbers of certified buildings – we want better, higher performing buildings.

 

The average American spends 90 percent of their time indoors – at work, at home and at school. Additionally, buildings in the United States consume about 40 percent of the country’s total energy consumption and represent 45 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. We all deserve better buildings. Tools like LEED, Energy Star and others are available to help us work towards better buildings – we should utilize them to improve the long-term health of St. Louisans, our region and the planet on which we reside.

U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter considers the benefits of green buildings to far outweigh any costs. We also believe in a future where everyone has access to work, live and learn in a green building. We invite our region to be a part of this future. And we challenge each of you to pursue greener operations, maintenance, design and construction for every building in our region every step of the way.

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