U.S. Green Building Council - Missouri Gateway Chapter Blog
Welcome to the USGBC-MO Gateway Blog, a place for the Chapter to share information on green building, LEED, sustainability and other "elements of green" in and around the St. Louis area.

Check Out Our 2016 Annual Report!

Posted: September 14th, 2017

We are excited to share our 2016 Annual Report with you! Each year, the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter makes progress towards our goal of transforming the built environment. We are so proud of our accomplishments towards a greener future for our community, which is generously supported by our sponsors, leaders (board of directors & committees), members, volunteers, and donors. Thank you to all who made 2016 a success!

In 2016, we celebrated our 15 year anniversary as an organization dedicated to making every building a green building because we know that GREEN BUILDINGS ARE BETTER . . . better for people, better for the environment, and better for the bottom line.

Download a PDF of our 2016 Annual Report and learn about our work to make every building a green building! 

2016-USGBC-MGC_AnnualReport_Page_1




2017 Benchmarking Training

Posted: September 7th, 2017

Presented in partnership with the City of St. Louis, BOMA St Louis, Downtown STL, Inc., and IFMA St. Louis Chapter. 

Benchmarking Training Flyer
On January 27, 2017, the City of St. Louis Board of Aldermen unanimously passed an energy benchmarking ordinance that requires municipal, institutional, commercial and multifamily residential buildings whose square footage is equal to or greater than 50,000 to track and report their energy and water usage annually to the City’s Building Division.

Privately owned buildings are required to benchmark and submit data by April 1, 2018 using the free, online tool ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

The USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter, the City of St. Louis, and partners are co-hosting three opportunities to learn how to comply.

The events below are free to all, but space is limited. Registration is required.

Benchmarking 101

An overview of the Building Energy Awareness Ordinance with step-by-step instructions on data collection, benchmarking in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, and reporting data to the City of St. Louis. Lunch is provided.

Wednesday, October 25, 12:00—1:30 pm
Missouri Botanical Garden’s Commerce Bank Center for Science Education
4651 Shaw Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63110
Register Online Here

Thursday, November 30, 12:00—1:30 pm
Metropolitan Square, 9th Floor Conference Room
211 North Broadway, Suite 990, St. Louis MO 63102
Register Online Here

Benchmarking Jam

Get hands-on assistance with energy and water benchmarking in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Visit event page for full list of needed information. 

Tuesday, November 14, 4:00—6:00 pm
Missouri Botanical Garden’s Commerce Bank Center for Science Education
4651 Shaw Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63110
Register Online Here

Partner logos

 




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

Posted: September 7th, 2017

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.




Membership Contest: Build Your Knowledge. Build Your Network. Build Your Community

Posted: August 8th, 2017

Contest 3 Image
The USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter’s Membership & Marketing Committee is excited to announce a third 2017 membership contest!

From August 8 to October 9, new and renewing members will be entered into a drawing for:

If you’re a current member and you encourage a friend or colleague to join, you’ll also be entered into the raffle – once for each new member you refer. The member making the most referrals will win a Forest Park Forever membership!

Winners will be drawn on October 10 at our monthly evening program Sustainable Risk Management and Disaster Response.

Membership makes the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter’s work to support buildings of all kinds to green their design and operations possible. Join to show your support of our efforts to green the places we all love!

And membership benefits you as well; join to receive free or reduced entry to all of USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter’s educational events, access to opportunities to build relationships with our community of almost 500 members, and eligibility to serve on Chapter committees, community projects, and board of directors. Build your knowledge, build your network, and build your community by becoming a USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter member!

Review member benefits and levels online here, or head directly to the membership registration form

Join

Renew

Contest Details

Timeframe:

How to Participate

  • Join the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter or renew your membership to be entered into a drawing for the prizes listed below.
  • Encourage a friend, colleague or contact to join! Current members that are listed in the “who/what encouraged you to join” field of the membership application will be entered into the drawing once for each member they refer.
  • The member making the most referrals will win 1 year of Forest Park Forever Membership

Prizes 

  • Drawing Prizes:
    • $25 gift card to Green Dining Alliance Certified Snarf”s Sandwiches
    • $25 gift card to Green Dining Alliance Certified Water Street
    • $50 gift card donated by Envision Lighting Design
  • The member making the most referrals will win 1 year of Forest Park Forever Membership

 

Many thanks to the following  for their prize donations!
envision-logo
Envision Lighting Design
snarfsGreen Dining Alliance
Snarf’s Sandwiches, with 3 star Green Dining Alliance certified locations in the Loop and on Skinker. Your dining decisions matter! Choose one of the over 100 Green Dining Alliance certified sustainable restaurants for your next dining experience.
water-streetGreen Dining Alliance
Water Street, a 3 star Green Dining Alliance certified restaurant. Your dining decisions matter! Choose one of the over 100 Green Dining Alliance certified sustainable restaurants for your next dining experience.
download
 Forest Park Forever



Washington University Competes in the DoE Solar Decathlon 2017

Posted: August 3rd, 2017

Guest Post by the Washington University Solar Decathlon Team

The Washington University team has collaborated with leading industry partners to overcome unique challenges in designing the concrete residential building. The CRETE house footings, walls, floor, and ceiling are all made out of pre-cast concrete. The walls consist of sandwich panels- structural concrete on the interior, insulation in the middle, and UHPC (Ultra High Performance Concrete) on the exterior. Although construction of CRETE House is currently taking place on the North campus of Washington University, it will be disassembled and shipped to Denver, Colorado where the team will put it back together in time for the Solar Decathlon competition. Therefore, modularity was integral to design. All the systems – mechanical, electrical, and plumbing – are directly attached to a steel “core” that sits in the center of the building. The entire house can be erected in under a week.

Additionally, CRETE House is not designed to use a traditional HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system; instead, tubing in the floors and ceiling carry cool or warm water, to adjust the interior temperature. Due to the concrete’s thermal mass, the house can act as a thermal battery and cut down on heating/cooling costs. A solar array is fixed to the roof and generates all of the daily electrical needs. This level of systems and architecture integration is often only seen in multi-million dollar buildings.

The innovative design of CRETE House has provided an opportunity to tackle one of the most important challenges for sustainable construction – CO2 emissions. Preliminary calculations show that CRETE House saves significant CO2 emissions over the life cycle of the house, despite the higher carbon emissions to produce the structural materials. A large chunk of these CO2 savings come from the increased lifespan of concrete, indoor environment regulation system, and reduced maintenance.

CRETE House, as well as 13 other innovative houses, will be on display in Denver, Colorado from October 5-15th, 2017. The Solar Decathlon is open to the public and all are welcome to visit. The house will be permanently installed at the Tyson Research Center for visiting scientists, during the winter of 2017-2018.

Crete House

To track the progress of Team WashU and CRETE House, follow them on their website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages.




Green Buildings Are Better – Financial Performance

Posted: August 3rd, 2017

Guest post by John May, author of MoGreenStats.com

A study by the Department of Energy found that in green buildings net operating income was 28.8% higher than in non-green buildings. Missouri has more green buildings than Tennessee, but far fewer than Maryland.


The residential and commercial buildings in the U.S. consume about 40% of the nation’s total energy consumption. Green buildings use less energy, improve occupant health and productivity, and lower ownership risk. However, until recently researchers have lacked sufficient historical data to analyze the link between energy efficiency and financial performance because the information has been proprietary.

A recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy addressed this question. The authors were able to identify a set of 131 buildings for which the necessary data were available. Only buildings that met the following criteria were accepted into the study:

  • Market value per square foot was greater than $400.
  • Rent concessions in the building were greater than $0, but less than $3 per square foot.
  • Monthly rent in the building was greater than $6 per square foot.
  • Occupancy in the building was greater than 50%.

The authors then divided the buildings into two groups: buildings were “green” if they had an Energy Star score of 75 or higher (a measure of energy efficiency compared to other buildings of the same type) or if they had achieved LEED Certification. A discussion of what these criteria mean is below. Buildings were “non-green” if they did not meet either criteria. The result was 2 groups of buildings, green and non-green, each with more than 60 buildings in it.

The authors then compared the buildings on the following metrics:

  • Market value per square foot;
  • Net operating Income per square foot;
  • Operating expenses per square foot;
  • Rental income per square foot;
  • Rental concessions per square foot;
  • Occupancy rate.

table 1

Table 1. Comparison of Green and Non-Green Buildings on 6 Financial Performance Metrics. Source: Department of Energy, 2017.

Table 1 gives the results. Green buildings had higher market value, higher net operating income, higher rent, lower rental concessions, lower operating expenses, and higher occupancy rates. The differences in operating expenses and net operating income achieved statistical significance (p = 0.0089 and 0.0015 respectively), and the difference in market value approached it (p = 0.094).

Looking at Table 1, what jumps out is that net operating income was 28.8% higher in green buildings. Most of the increase seems to have come from reduced expenses, with a smaller contribution coming from increased rents.

table 2

Table 2. Source: Miller et al, 2008.

The Department of Energy study is not the only study to suggest better financial performance from green buildings. Table 2 summarizes results from 3 additional studies, all of which found that LEED and ENERGY STAR buildings generated higher rents, higher occupancy rates, and higher value per square foot.

fig 1

 

Figure 1. Data source: Green Building Information Gateway

So how many green buildings are there in Missouri? A database operated by the U.S. Green Building Council lists 389 LEED certifications in Missouri, covering 35.27 million square feet. Tennessee, Missouri, and Maryland are the 17th, 18th, and 19th most populous states in the country. Tennessee has 377 LEED certified activities (48.35 million square feet), and Maryland has 964 (11.4 million square feet). Figure 1 shows the data, with the number of LEED certified buildings in blue and the LEED certified square footage in red. Clearly, green building has caught on in Maryland to a much greater extent than it has here. It’s too bad – if you could deliver health benefits to those who live and work in a building, while at the same time improving its net operating income by 28.8%, you’d think that you’d want to do that, wouldn’t you?

Explanation of Energy Star and LEED Certification: ENERGY STAR is a building energy benchmarking program operated by the U.S. Department of Energy. Building owners enter their building’s energy consumption (from utility bills and similar sources) into a computer database. The database then compares the building’s energy consumption to that of other similar buildings. In other words, hospitals are compared to hospitals, schools to schools, office buildings to office buildings, etc. The program then gives each building a rating from 1-100, the higher the number the better the building’s energy performance. LEED is an acronym that stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. To achieve LEED certification, a building must incorporate a suite of technologies that improve the building’s environmental performance in a number of areas, from energy consumption to indoor air quality to water consumption, and others. The LEED system is administered by the U.S. Green Building Council.

MoGreenStats is now going on break for a few weeks. The next post will be scheduled for August 24, 2017. Happy trails ’til then.

Visit MoGreenStats, a blog exploring Missouri’s environmental statistics, to read more analysis of environmental statistics and reports. 

Sources:

Department of Energy. 2017. Utilizing Commercial Real Estate Owner and Investor Data to Analyze the Financial Performance of Energy Efficient, High Performance Office Buildings. Downloaded 7/9/2017 from https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2017/05/f34/bto_PilotResearchStudy-DOEFinancialDataInitiative_5-8-17.pdf.

Miller, Norm, Jay Spivey, and Andy Florance. 2008. Does Green Pay Off? Published by U.S. Department of Energy. Downloaded 7/10/2017 from https://www.energystar.gov/sites/default/files/buildings/tools/DoesGreenPayOff.pdf.

The Green Building Information Gateway, an online database operated by the U.S. Green Building Council. Data accessed online 7/9/2017 at http://www.gbig.org.




Green Buildings Are Better – Health

Posted: July 24th, 2017

Guest post by John May, author of MoGreenStats.com

Green buildings have better indoor environmental qualities, and deliver direct health benefits to those who work in them or live in them.


Americans spend an average of 90% of their time indoors. Indoor environments with low air circulation can concentrate pollutants 2 to 5 times higher than in outdoor air. Contaminants found in indoor air include organic compounds (e.g. formaldehyde, pesticide, fire retardant), microbes (e.g. bacteria, mold), inorganic gases (e.g. ozone, carbon monoxide, radon), and particulate matter (second-hand smoke, dust, smoke from fires).

Building-related illnesses include infections (e.g. Legionnaire’s disease), headache, nausea, nasal and chest congestion, wheezing, eye problems, sore throat, fatigue, chills and fever, muscle pain, neurological symptoms, and dry skin. That’s quite a list, and it should be apparent that indoor environmental quality is very important to health and well-being.

Green buildings have better indoor environmental qualities, and deliver direct health benefits to those who work in them or live in them, according to a review conducted in 2015. The review looked at 17 different studies of the relationship between green buildings and health. Green buildings had lower levels of volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, allergens, nitrous oxide, smoke, and particulate matter.

The improved indoor environmental quality translated to improved self-reported health outcomes, and improved self-reported productivity. Only one study used objective health outcome metrics, but it is instructive. Thiel et al compared results at a children’s hospital in Pittsburgh before and after it moved from a non-green to a green facility. After the move, there was less employee turnover and open positions filled faster. Blood stream infection rates declined 70% and the number of corrections that had to be made to medical records declined 49%. Not only that, but patient mortality was expected to be 11% higher after the move, because the case load became more severe. However, the green hospital actually had a 19% decrease in patient mortality.

In a more traditional office setting, 263 employees were studied before and after they moved from a non-green building to a green one. After moving, they reported a 56% decrease in absences due to asthma and respiratory allergies, a 49% decrease in absences due to depression and stress, and an improvement in productivity (productivity was measured using an index that does not lend itself to a numerical comparison of before and after).

Thus, the data look promising for green buildings. At the same time, confounding factors could explain some of the improvements observed, and the fact that many studies used self-report data suggests that caution should be used in interpreting the studies. Studies using more objective data are needed.

What about the financial performance of green buildings? The next post will explore that.

Visit MoGreenStats, a blog exploring Missouri’s environmental statistics, to read more analysis of environmental statistics and reports. 

Sources:

Allen, Joseph, Piers MacNaughton, Jose Laurent, Skye Flanigan, Erika Eitland, and John Spengler. 2015. “Green Buildings and Health.” Current Environmental Health Report. Downloaded 7/9/2017 from https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs40572-015-0063-y.pdf.

Singh, Amanjeet, Matt Syal, Sue Grady, and Sinem Korkmaz. 2010. “Effects of Green Buildings on Employee Health and Productivity.”

Thiel, C.L., Needy, K.L., Ries, R.J., Hupp, D., Bilec, M.M. (2014). “Building Design and Performance: A Comparative Longitudinal Assessment of a Children’s Hospital.” Building and the Environment. 78, August 2014, 130–136.
American Journal of Public Health. 1665-1668. Downloaded 7/9/2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2920980.

U.S. Institute of Medicine. 2007. Green Healthcare Institutions: Health, Environment, and Economics: Workshop Summary, Chapter 4. The Health Aspects of Green Buildings. National Academies Press. Viewed online 6/10/2017 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK54149.




Missouri University of Science & Technology Solar House Team’s Next Innovation: SILO

Posted: July 18th, 2017

Guest Post by the Missouri University of Science & Technology Solar House Team

It’s that time again! With the latest design nearly complete the ground is rumbling with the sound of construction as the next Missouri S&T Solar Decathlon entry is taking shape once again. The team is made up of students, faculty, staff, industry partners and a few others. For the 7th time the team is constructing a new house for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. This newest house, called SILO, will compete in Denver against other collegiate teams in October. What is behind the name? Well SILO is so much more than just a self-sustaining, net-zero home.

The “S” in SILO stands for smart, represented by a home automation system that enables the homeowner to live efficiently and at ease.

“I” for innovative; the numerous sustainable technologies include the solar array, greywater reclamation, and on-site energy storage.

“L” represents living. The home’s abundant greenery and modern appliances combine for comfortable, smart living.

Additionally, ample sunlight, clean air, and relaxing atmosphere create the “O” in SILO, which stands for oasis. Together, these features combine into a Smart Innovative Living Oasis, the ideal experience for any homeowner.

Cameron Summers, Public Relations Director for the Solar House Design Team and senior in Architectural Engineering shared, “SILO was created to meet the needs of a rapidly growing demographic: couples looking to downsize and invest in their future. “

Jennifer Nickel, Director of Design for the Team and senior in Architectural and Civil Engineering states, “The team felt strongly the design should be centered on couples who are entering their late 40’s and early 50’s where kids have often left their home to forge their own paths.” Abby Clancy, senior in Architectural and Civil Engineering shared, “Designed with the practicality of a farmhouse and the modern, sustainable style of a conventional home, SILO is perfect for a couple or individual looking for a more relaxed, “green” way of living.”

“This has been a two year process and the team has learned a great deal about the design and construction process,” states Mr. Heath Pickerill main faculty advisor. “The experience has proven to be a great stepping stone for their careers in industry as many of team members typically get multiple offers in industry”, says Dr. Stuart Baur faculty advisor and Assistant Chair in the Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering Department.

With the Solar Decathlon set for this coming Fall, students have been hard at work to complete construction of this house. The team is looking forward to showing of its latest entry to thousands of visitors as well as win the 10 competition areas against 12 other universities from around the world. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends design excellence and smart energy production with innovation, market potential, and energy and water efficiency. Please consider this your personal invitation to join us at the decathlon in Denver with tours available from October 5th through to the 15th. “Come out support our team and sustainable living, and most importantly, learn how you can make a positive impact on the environment with simple changes to your home”, says Luke Mueller project manager and recent graduate in Chemical Engineering.

Follow the team’s progress at solarhouse.mst.edu,  www.solardecathlon.gov, and on their Facebook Page.

 




Seeking Nominations for 2018 Board!

Posted: July 17th, 2017

Be a part of the green building movement & help us make every building a green building!

USGBC-Missouri Gateway is currently seeking nominations for At-Large board directors. All terms begin in 2018. Nominations are due by 5 pm Central Time on Friday, August 18, 2017. 

Self nominations are accepted and encouraged. Nominees must be a member in good standing with USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter and must currently serve or have previously served on a Chapter committee or as a Chapter volunteer. The online nomination form, can be found here.

For more information, please see: 

In 2015, we shifted our board nomination and election process, and no longer hold elections. Nominations are still accepted from the membership. The Governance Committee collects nominations and ensures eligibility of nominees. The committee then consults a matrix of leadership needs to determine a slate to present to the board for approval. The committee expects to present a slate to the board for discussion at the September 2017 board meeting.




USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Opposes Ice Center Development in Creve Coeur Park

Posted: July 11th, 2017

St. Louis County Government is considering a proposal to convert 40 acres of Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park into a 250,000 square foot, 4,500 seat ice hockey complex. While we enthusiastically support the development and expansion of recreational facilities in our region, like the proposed ice facility, we believe this is the wrong location for any such development.

This development will significantly increase the built and impermeable space in Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park, reducing open space and leading to increased stormwater runoff and flooding. Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park is a pristine, biodiverse, and delicate ecosystem that would be threatened by a development in such close proximity.

USGBC’s LEED Rating System strongly discourages development of environmentally sensitive lands and encourages the conservation of existing natural areas and restoration of damaged areas.

The site is in the 100 year floodplain. Development as proposed will only add to the existing flooding issues around Creve Coeur Lake and Marine Avenue. Additionally, the site provides valuable habitat and ecosystem services.

The parkland intended for the Ice Arena was purchased through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, designated 6-F, and restricted for outdoor recreation use only. The Arena would be predominantly an indoor use facility and would need a waiver from the National Park Service. We believe outdoor recreation and wildlife habitat are the best uses of the space.

The site is not accessible by public transportation, and so does not allow convenient access by all socioeconomic groups in the region. With a seating capacity of 4,500, the facility will create significant traffic and carbon emissions if only accessible by automobile. LEED encourages projects to reduce the pollution and the land development impacts from automobile use by selecting sites within walking distance of public transportation.

The proposed development will contribute to multiple forms of pollution – including air pollution and carbon emissions, and light and noise pollution, diminishing access to natural areas for our residents and wildlife.

We encourage St. Louis County and the Legacy Ice Foundation to select a different site for this development, prioritizing:

  • Preservation of existing open and natural spaces
  • Selection of a site outside of a recognized floodplain, and use of Low Impact Design strategies and Stormwater Best Management Practices in site design.
  • Energy efficient building design
  • Access to public transportation

We encourage you to voice your concerns by doing the following: