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.

Benchmarking Case Study: 600 Tower

Posted: November 24th, 2015

600 Washington Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63101


This 25-story office building, formerly known as One City Center, is a 375,000 square foot office building with a variety of tenants, including several large legal and accounting firms. Originally built in 1985, the tower overlooks the former St. Louis Centre mall which has since been transformed into a 750 space parking garage in 2010.

DTZ, which recently merged with Cushman-Wakefield, manages the building to keep its approximately 600 occupants comfortable. They initially completed the 25 x 20 Benchmarking Challenge as a means by which to track energy consumption over time. Additionally, ongoing comparison data sets are used to identify anomalies in energy and water usage. It has also been used as a marketing tool to attract potential tenants.

The building achieved a high enough score that will allow them to apply for an Energy STAR rating in approximately 18 months. They have completed lighting retrofits in a number of common areas, as well as a portion of tenant spaces, and have encouraged tenants to implement computer power management programs and turn off non-controlled lighting. They have additional lighting and HVAC retrofits planned for the future, along with an upgrade to their building management system.

Click here to view a PDF of the case study

Understanding the Living Building Challenge Materials Petal Workshop

Posted: November 9th, 2015

USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Members receive $50 off of the registration fee!

The Living Building Challenge Materials Petal is intended to induce a successful materials economy that is non-toxic, transparent and socially equitable. In this workshop, participants will gain an understanding of how to meet the material-related Imperatives of the Living Building Challenge: I-10 Red List, I-11 Embodied Carbon Footprint, I-12 Responsible Industry, I-13 Living Economy Sourcing, and I-14 Net Positive Waste as well as introduce and explain the Declare Program.

This workshop is appropriate for anyone working in the building industry, participants should already have an understanding of the Living Building Challenge. They should be familiar with the Standard and the Imperatives and Petal structure of the Challenge. The workshop will highlight successful examples of innovative projects from around the globe, identifying innovative products and stories how projects have been successful in changing the materials marketplace.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify the Imperatives within the Materials Petal and distinguish how these Imperatives support the Living Building Challenge mission
  • Understand the Declare label and what it defines
  • Identify 2 products that have gone through the process, now have a Declare label and how that has transformed their manufacturing standards
  • Ability to identify innovative products and stories where projects have been successful in changing the materials marketplace.

Thursday, December 10, 2015
1:00 – 5:00 pm

Workshop Overview:
1:00pm-2:00pm The Philosophy of the Living Building Challenge / Petal rationale + strategies: Materials
2:00-2:30pm Break
2:30pm-5:00pm Breaking down Barriers / Community + Tools / Full Group Discussion

HOK St. Louis
10 S Broadway Suite 200
St. Louis, MO 63102

Continuing Education:
This workshop has been approved for 4 GBCI CE hours, 4 AIA LU|HSW credits, and 4 Living Future Accreditation hours.

Instructor Background:
Kathleen Smith, LEED Fellow, Technical Director, Living Building Challenge

Kathleen Smith is an architect with more than 20 years of experience in green building, most recently with her own firm, Ecosmith Architecture & Consulting, LLC. She is a LEED Fellow and a LEED Faculty member.  Kathleen worked with Davis Langdon where she conducted LEED reviews and consulted on many pioneering sustainable projects in California. She is also the co-author of two books, The Northwest Green Home Primer and Rebuilding Community in America: Housing for Ecological Living, Personal Empowerment, and the New Extended Family. Kathleen has a Bachelor and Master of Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley in addition to a Permaculture Consultant’s Design Certificate from the Permaculture Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Early-bird registration (through 11/26/15):
$95 – USGBC-MGC Members (must contact USGBC-MGC staff at hope.gribble@mobot.org for promotional code)
$145 – Non-members

After 11/26/15:
$185 – USGBC-MGC Members (must contact USGBC-MGC staff at hope.gribble@mobot.org for promotional code)
$235 – Non-Members

Click here to register online

Congratulations to 4th Annual Photo Contest Winners!

Posted: October 19th, 2015

The winners of the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter’s 4th Annual Photo Contest have been announced! We received over 20 photos in response to the theme of “From Upcycling to Recycling.” The contest was open to all residents of the Missouri Gateway Chapter Territory, and winners were announced at the Water Energy Nexus on Tuesday, October 13th.

USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Photo Contest Winners

Farmer CityMus Grand Stairs TFarmer

Timothy Farmer, first place winner
Tim won one year of complimentary Chapter membership, his choice of a Chapter pint glass, water bottle or hat, and got to select a gift card generously donated by a local business.

PTM entry1

Paul Todd Merrill, second place winner
Paul won a complimentary pass to one In-depth Educational Session,  his choice of a Chapter pint glass, water bottle or hat, and got to select a gift card generously donated by a local business.

Guenther 4

John Guenther, FAIA, LEED AP, third place and people’s choice award winner
John won his choice of a Chapter pint glass, water bottle or hat, and got to select a gift card generously donated by a local business.

Thank you to all who submitted photos to the 4th Annual Photo Contest!
Thank you to the local businesses that donated gift cards for our photo contest!
 Garden Heights Nursery logo

Emerging Professionals collecting Children’s Books for Little Free Libraries

Posted: October 15th, 2015

IMG_4191USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Emerging Professionals spent Green Apple Day of Service constructing 3 Little Free Libraries out of reclaimed material.

The Libraries are headed to the hallways of Ford Elementary, a St. Louis Public school in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood. Emerging Professionals are collecting children’s books to stock these libraries. Bring new or used children’s books to EP events or the Chapter office before November 13 help fill the libraries!

Book Drive












Vote for USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Volunteers to win USGBC’s Malcolm Lewis IMPACT award!

Posted: October 1st, 2015

malcolm lewis infographic-01USGBC – Missouri Gateway Chapter volunteers are in the running for the national USGBC’s Malcolm Lewis IMPACT! Award. Named in memory of Malcolm Lewis, the award recognizes high-impact, volunteer-driven work that support USGBC’s vision.

19 USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter volunteers were nominated for their work to support congregations green their houses of worship at the Green Your House of Worship Workshop, a pilot of USGBC’s ADVANCE platform. You can cote for their efforts by liking the photo on Facebook!

The volunteer project receiving the most likes by October 20 will be crowned the 2015 IMPACT! Award winner, and will be recognized at the Greenbuild Leadership Awards Luncheon on November 19. Only likes on the original Facebook post will be counted toward the final tally.

Above + Beyond Volunteers recognized by Heartland Regional Committee

Posted: September 30th, 2015

Above + Beyond HRC jpgAbove + Beyond volunteers Hannah Roth, Becky Finch, Carolyn Gaidis, Frank Eppert, and Paul Todd Merrill were recently recognized by the USGBC Heartland Region as Volunteer Superstars!

We were thrilled to recognize each of these volunteers through our Above + Beyond program, and are excited to see these volunteers recognized regionally as well. Many thanks to Becky, Carolyn, Frank, Hannah, and Paul for all of their work on behalf of the Chapter!

Frank Eppert, USGBC-MO Gateway Technical Committee, LEED Community Project and Green Schools Quest, AFRAM Corp.

Becky Finch, USGBC-MO Gateway Growing Green Awards Working Group, TriNet

Carolyn Gaidis, USGBC-MO Gateway Scholarship Working Group, LAND SYSTEMS

Paul Todd Merrill, USGBC-MO Gateway Membership Committee, Clayco

Hannah Roth, USGBC-MO Gateway Continuing Education Blitz, Washington University



Business Case for Energy Efficiency & Clean Energy Follow Up

Posted: September 23rd, 2015

USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter was pleased to co-host “The Business Case for Energy Efficiency & Clean Energy” with E2-Environmental Entrepreneurs, Missouri Energy Initiative, the St. Louis High Performance Building Initiative & the St. Louis Regional Chamber. With nearly 80 people attending, we had a full house! Speakers included:

  • Josh Campbell with MEI and Gail Parson with E2 discussed their Clean Jobs Missouri survey results. Check out their presentation.
  • Ashok Gupta with the Natural Resources Defense Council talked about the importance of good policy as a driver to move the market and comply with the clean power plan while meeting environmental objectives and lowering customer costs. Specifically, Gupta drew on his experience with the City Energy Project, most recently in Kansas City, MO.
  • Warren Wood with Ameren Missouri described energy efficiency as the lowest cost resource in their portfolio, with every $1 investment generating $3 of benefit. He also discussed the benefits of their current and proposed energy efficiency incentive programs. Check out his presentation.
  • Doug Sitton of Sitton Energy Solutions wrapped up the panel with an overview of how his company & his customers have  benefited from energy efficiency. Not only are most customers typically seeing 25 – 25% energy reductions with 5 year paybacks, but Doug also anticipates that we have just begun to see the benefits of energy efficiency in this region.

Thanks to all who attended!

LEED Project Profile – @4240

Posted: September 23rd, 2015

@4240 Project Profile final_Page_1LEED Platinum @4240 in St. Louis’s Cortex Innovation Community is the latest LEED project to be featured in a USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter LEED Project Profile.

With 85 total points, the project earned Platinum in LEED Core & Shell v2009. Energy Efficiency measures incorporated into the project are projected to result in a 42.5% energy savings compared to a typical lab/office facility. Additional sustainable design features include the development of activity-based green space, Low Impact Development techniques to manage water runoff, native plantings, and creative reuse of original building elements. Learn more about the building’s sustainable strategies, the project team, and @4240 in the project profile, or visit our Local LEED Projects page to learn more about LEED buildings in our Chapter territory.

Comment Period Now Open for 2016 Board Nominees

Posted: August 24th, 2015

USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter has three (3) board of director seats open beginning in 2016. We collected nominations through August 17 and are pleased to announce the following nominees being considered:

  • Steve O’Rourke, NABCEP PVTS – Microgrid Energy
  • Richard Schuessler – Huntleigh McGehee
  • Thomas Taylor, LEED AP BD+C, GSAS-CGP – Vertegy

In place of elections, our Governance Committee is seeking constructive feedback from USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter members. The Committee will collect feedback and integrate it with the board eligibility requirements and a matrix of leadership needs to determine a slate to present to the board.

Chapter members can learn more about each candidate and share input via this on-line form during the comment period from Monday, August 24 through Tuesday, September 8, 2015.

For more information, including election Guidelines and Board Job Descriptions, please visit the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter website.

Getting More Out of Our Urban Landscapes

Posted: August 18th, 2015

Join the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter, the American Society of Landscape Architects – St. Louis Chapter, and the Missouri Botanical Garden for two events featuring Heather Venhaus:

Check out Heather’s article, originally published in Healthy Planet Magazine, for a preview!

Getting More Out of Our Urban Landscapes

By Heather L. Venhaus, Regenerative Environmental Design, LLC

Imagine a home or urban landscape that can ease the impacts of drought, reduce flooding, improve the water quality of creeks, rivers and lakes, cut energy costs, clean air, and capture greenhouse gases all while improving our health and happiness. Sounds awesome, right? These benefits, known as ecosystem services, are the goods and services that we all depend upon which nature provides for free. As you might imagine, ecosystem services have a tremendous monetary value, estimated at $46 trillion per year.
All landscapes whether urban, suburban, or rural have the potential to provide ecosystem services that extend both locally and globally. Unfortunately, in our quest to create more sustainable environments, the potential of residential and small urban landscapes are often overlooked. Residential landscapes make up almost half of the total green space in most cities. A single homeowner or coalition of neighbors can have significant impacts.
When considering ecosystem services, it is important to think about the connections between natural systems – soils, water, vegetation, climate, wildlife – and to look for landscape strategies that have multiple and long-term benefits. One strategy that is often overlooked is soil maintenance and stewardship. Soils and vegetation work together to provide a wide suite of ecosystem services. Plant roots provide food for soil microorganisms, which in return make nutrients available for plants and improve soil structure. Good soil structure is necessary for the movement of air and water in the soil, both of which are needed for healthy vegetation and sustainable water management. Organic matter is key to developing and maintaining good soil structure. Plants are continually adding organic matter to the soil via roots, leaves, and branches. Soil microorganisms are also a source.

Landscape practices that remove plant tissues such as bagging grass or leaves, rob the soil of a valuable resource. Selecting maintenance practices that allow organic matter to stay in place and decompose such as grasscycling or leafing shredding can easily amend this. Other practices include adding compost and mulch to the landscape on a regular basis. Landscapes that maintain healthy levels of soil organic matter can rack up multiple benefits including improved plant growth and resistance to disease, a more diverse and robust community of beneficial soil microorganisms, minimal fertilizer and pesticide requirements, an increase in the soil’s ability to hold more water thereby reducing irrigation needs, and protection from soil compaction which increases erosion. As with other ecosystem service benefits, the positive payback is not limited to the homeowner, but the entire region can receive a gain.

If you are interested in learning more and ways to improve your landscape and get involved, check out these resources:

  • Landscape for Life developed by the U.S. Botanic Garden. Teacher and student resources cover support sustainable soils, vegetation, water, landscape materials, and human health practices.
  • The St. Louis Audubon Society program, Bring Conservation Home, provides on-site assistance to small, private landowners in the greater St. Louis area for the restoration of native plant and animal habitat.
  • BiodiverseCity St. Louis, an initiative to promote, protect, and plan for biodiversity.
  • A lecture on Upcycling Our Urban Ecosystems presented by Heather Venhaus will take place on September 8, 2015 from 5:30-7:30pm.