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.

Green Building Expert Tara Pham’s CTY awarded grant

Posted: May 28th, 2015

TaraPham-Tara ProfilePic_pdx_large Pham is CEO and co-founder of CTY, a civic tech company that has been awarded a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Prototype Fund, which supports early-stage information projects. CTY’s product, Numina, encourages walking and biking through its plug-and-play devices that deliver real-time bicyclist and pedestrian counts and intuitive data visualizations. The City of St. Louis Department of Health will benefit from CTY’s innovation. Scroll to “Numina” in the list of grant winners here.

Learn more about Tara Pham in her Chapter member profile.

Explore the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter online directory to learn more about our members.

USGBC-MGC seeks 15-Yr Anniversary Consulting Services

Posted: May 28th, 2015

USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter will celebrate our 15-Year Anniversary in 2016. We seeking consulting services to help us develop a campaign to celebrate! See our Request for Qualifications.

Qualifications are due to USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter by 5 pm on June 22, 2015.


Hangry? Find the Cure at the Green Dining Alliance Crawl!

Posted: May 15th, 2015

By Allison Macon, USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Programs Committee

We’ve all been there.  It’s that moment – perhaps it’s after work, during work, could be any time really- when you need to EAT.  It can sneak up on you. You’re being a perfectly nice and happy person and then you’re “Hangry.” That’s “Angry” plus “hungry,” folks, a bad combo in my opinion. Particularly nasty when it’s early on in the summer and your home grown tomatoes have yet to flourish and you ate all of those beautiful radishes you planted in early spring. And the morels you hunted and gathered?  All eaten.  “Why did I bother sharing those?” you’re thinking.

You’re basically dying and you need a SNACK.

Added to the stress of your situation, you ask your friend or significant other, “Where should we eat?”  And they respond, “I don’t know.”  Or maybe even, “I don’t care.” YOU DON’T CARE?! A fit of rage is upon you and it’s beginning to look like someone’s sleeping on the couch…

BUT WAIT!  You’ve got options.  The Green Dining Alliance has been certifying restaurants in St. Louis to ensure you can dine out without compromising the environment or your stomach.

The Green Dining Alliance (GDA), an initiative of St. Louis Earth Day, is a restaurant sustainability certification program that works with restaurants to reduce their environmental impact by completing an on-site audit that evaluates all areas of operations.  St. Louis has a lot of these restaurants! In fact, Maplewood’s Special Business District has been named the nation’s 1st Green Dining District.

On Tuesday, June 9th from 5-7:30pm, the U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter, the Green Dining Alliance and Maplewood Special Business District are partnering to offer a Green Dining District Crawl.  Check out Maplewood’s green dining district while having a drink and samples provided by participating GDA restaurants.

The evening will begin at with a brief presentation about GDA certification at Schlafly Bottleworks. Attendees will enjoy a free drink from Schlafly and then crawl to restaurants within the district.  The event is open to the public and $20, $10 for USGBC-MO Gateway members. Learn more and register for the Crawl today!

Green Dining Crawl - June 9

2015 St. Louis Earth Day Symposium – Livable Communities

Posted: May 7th, 2015

Symposium Design_2015Attendees at the 2015 St. Louis Earth Day Symposium will learn about sustainability practices that are changing the face of our cities and neighborhoods, while creating a positive environmental, social, and political impact in our communities. Topics include transportation, food, biodiversity and community. Through an interdisciplinary approach and networking opportunities, attendees will connect and engage with others, understand their work in a greater context and learn from peers and regional experts.

St. Louis Earth Day Symposium – Livable Communities
June 3, 2015
Saint Louis University, Il Monastero
Early registration through May 8 ($65); registration ends May 27 ($85)
Scholarships and discounts available to ensure access for all those interested.
Learn more and register on the St. Louis Earth Day Website.

Green Building Experts – Christine VanLeeuwen

Posted: April 30th, 2015

Christine Van LeeuwenChristine VanLeeuwen, LC, an LED lighting specialist, was quoted in “How to Brighten Your Bottom Line” in the April 2015 issue of Paint & Decorating Retailer magazine. Energy demands, specifically lighting, are intense in retail environments. The article discusses how lighting upgrades reduce energy consumption, lower operating expense, and draw more customers into stores, all leading to higher profits.

The article can be viewed in full on the Paint & Decorating Retailer Magazine website, and you can learn more about Christine in her Chapter member profile.

Explore the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter online member directory to learn more about all of our members!

Healthy Cities

Posted: April 27th, 2015

Joyce LeeBy Joyce S. Lee, FAIA, LEED Fellow, President, IndigoJLD

Join the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter for two upcoming in-person events featuring Joyce Lee: “Healthy Cities + Policy Implications” on May 12 and “Green Design + Human Health + Social Equity” on May 13!

Health is a state of complete physical mental and social well-beig and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,” according to the World Health Organization.

Healthy cities – what comes to your mind? Fresh air, citizens walking, bicycling or jogging, smiling faces, just to name a few. This article discusses why a comprehensive approach is needed and delineates a selection of examples around the country that could serve as inspiration for other communities.

The Washington Post, in early 2014, hosted a forum called “Health beyond Healthcare” that highlighted community infrastructure and investment to improve health. Below is a convergence of factors that play a role in healthy communities:

Housing | transportation | food access |socioeconomics | Education | work environment |built environment |natural environment |public safety |Prenatal and Child development | Community and social capital

The economics are equally compelling. According to the Trust for America’s HealthTrust for America’s Health, “A $10 per person annual, investment in community-based prevention over five years could produce 5% reductions in type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and kidney disease, and stroke — with ROI of $5.60 for every $1 invested.”

Smart Scale Experiments – Wellville
How is the country responding? One of the latest small city competitions is called HICCup for Health Initiative Coordinating Council. A well-known tech investor, Esther Dyson, has started a grand experiment to enlist small cities in a friendly challenge to help communities become healthier places inhabited by healthier residents. Selected from 42 contestants, five small cities or counties—each with a population of 100,000 or less—are taking part in “The Way to Wellville.” They are Muskegon, Michigan; Lake County, California; Spartanburg, South Carolina; Clatsop County, Oregon; and Niagara Falls, New York.

In addition to existing community partnerships, Ms. Dyson launched an investor mindset to health promotion. “The Wellville Challenge fits perfectly into the work of greater Muskegon, to achieve the ‘1 in 21’ goal, led by the Muskegon Health Department and the Rotary Club, to become the healthiest county in Michigan by 2021. It also amplifies our health mission at United Way,” says Christine Robere, President and CEO of United Way of the Lakeshore.

Healthy Corridors and Land Use
As health is a core component of thriving communities, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Building Healthy Places Initiative is building on work that links human health and development. Auto-dependent roadways have long been an area of health concern. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ULI is investigating best practices to reinvent under-performing suburban and urban arterials in health-promoting ways.

The first examples are: Los Angeles, Denver, Nashville, and Boise, Idaho. Rachel MacCleery, Senior Vice President from ULI, said, “Too many commercial corridors are dangerous, dismal, and dirty. This project is working to re-envision them as healthier places, with active transportation options, better land use patterns, better food access, and other health-promoting characteristics.”

Philadelphia Food Trust
The Food Trust, based in Center City of Philadelphia, ranked #2 “high-impact” nonprofit in America in children’s health and nutrition. In its two decades’ history, the Food Trust has worked with neighborhoods, schools, grocers, farmers and policymakers in Philadelphia and across the country to change how Americans think about healthy food and increase its availability.

With partners, the Trust brought supermarkets to communities in food desserts, helped corner store introduce fresh produce, low-fat dairy and whole grains, introduced healthier food options in schools. A recent study by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health found that – for the first time in decades – the obesity rates among Philadelphia school children decreased by 5 percent between 2006 and 2010. The healthcare cost savings can be significant when the years of care are reduced dramatically.

Intersectoral Collaboration – Stair Week
Policy interests could be ignited in many ways. Designers as a non-traditional health partner create new alliances or invigorate existing ones. Stair Week is a program that brings together the health officers and the built environment sectors to focus on physical activity and good design. As Americans spend more than 90% of waking hours indoors, good stair design motivates students, employees, retirees alike. And while it seems like a small change, taking the stairs routinely can have a big impact on health.

The Stair Week proclamations received from governors in Illinois, Maryland, and Michigan are an affirmation of these smart choices. “We know ‘place matters’. Design and health is a strong emerging issue at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and their sustainability priorities. It’s a great topic for local advocacy where architects can make a big difference in health outcomes,” said Mary Ann Lazarus from St. Louis, AIA Resident Fellow.

Join the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter for two in-person events featuring Joyce Lee: “Healthy Cities + Policy Implications” on May 12 and “Green Design + Human Health + Social Equity” on May 13. 

National Volunteer Week – Thank you to our Volunteers!

Posted: April 17th, 2015

Above + Beyond

It’s National Volunteer Week, and the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter leadership and staff offer their appreciation to all Chapter volunteers! Whether our volunteers serve on a standing committee, mentor a school participating in the Green Schools Quest, make presentations on the Chapter’s behalf, assist non-profits complete LEED Documentation through the LEED Community Project, support congregations to green their building operations, or lead the Chapter on our Board of Directors, the service of our volunteers is critical to our work to transform the built environment!

The USGBC-Missouri Gateway is committed to recognizing volunteers who  contribute significantly to the Chapter, devoting time and talents “above and beyond” on a particular project or program. This week, in honor of national volunteer week, we were pleased to recognize several volunteers!

Pictured above, from left to right:

You can read about previously recognized Above + Beyond Volunteers here.

Above & Beyond Volunteer Recognition: Becky Finch

Posted: April 17th, 2015

IMG_7528The USGBC-Missouri Gateway is committed to recognizing volunteers who  contribute significantly to the Chapter, devoting time and talents “above and beyond” on a particular project or program. We are happy to recognize Becky Finch of the Nielsen Company  for her service to make the 2015 Growing Green Spotlight Celebration a success!

Becky was nominated by Jen Kissinger of Paric Corporation, past co-chair of the Growing Green Awards Working Group and At Large member of the USGBC-MGC Board of Directors, for her leadership of the Growing Green Awards Working Group.

This year the Working Group mixed things up, getting creative with the 7th annual celebration of the people and organizations transforming the built environment. They decided to highlight the accomplishments of the past 6 years of winners in a refreshed event- the Growing Green Spotlight! Attendees learned about all that past winners have accomplished since their award through poster displays and fast-paced presentations.

The success of the event was made possible by Becky and her fellow event volunteers, who coordinated the evening’s venue, catering, promotion and logistics. Feedback about the new event format was overwhelmingly positive. Many thanks to Becky for her hard work and dedication!

Announcing the Winners of the 2014-2015 Green Schools Quest!

Posted: April 16th, 2015

Green Schools Quest Healthy Planet Ad May 2015

Congratulations to the winners of the 2014-2015 Green Schools Quest!

Elementary School Category
1st Place
:    Rohan Woods School
2nd Place: Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School
3rd Place:  Westchester Elementary

 Middle School Category
1st Place
:    Holy Redeemer
2nd Place: North Kirkwood Middle School
3rd Place:  Alton Motivational Achievement Center

High School Category
1st Place
:    Edwardsville High School
2nd Place:
Parkway North High School
2nd Place:  Rockwood Summit High School
3rd Place:  The Governor French Academy

The Green Schools Quest challenges public and private schools in Missouri and southern Illinois to devise and implement, with the help of green mentors, the most creative, effective and no or low cost sustainable practices for their schools.

Kudos to all 38 participants! Interested in learning more about what each Green Team achieved? A summary of each school’s submission is available on our website here. Several schools submitted digital presentations and videos on Youtube. Click here to view a playlist of those videos.

School and mentor registration for the 2015-2016 Green Schools Quest opens May 1st! Visit the Green Schools Quest page for more information.


Above + Beyond Volunteer Recognition: Green Schools Event Volunteers

Posted: April 16th, 2015

The USGBC-Missouri Gateway is committed to recognizing volunteers who  contribute significantly to the Chapter, devoting time and talents “above and beyond” on a particular project or program. We are happy to recognize the volunteers responsible for the 8th Annual Green Schools Event for their service to make this event a success. These volunteers were nominated by Katie Belisle-Iffrig of Code Green Collaborative, chair of the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Green Schools Committee.

Volunteers collaborated in numerous ways to make this event a success. Jim Biggs of the EarthWays Center of the Missouri Botanical Garden, Lesli Moylan, Kim Petzing of Madison County Government, and Ralph Bicknese of Hellmuth + Bicknese Architects coordinated and facilitated the Teacher’s Roundtable that preceded the event.

Kathleen Engel of Ameren Missouri Pure Power coordinated tours of the Project IDEA space, and Ralph Bicknese of Hellmuth + Bicknese Architects, Tyler Loucky of St. Louis Composting, Ed Choklek of FGM Architects, and Michele Dow of Dow Environmental Protection staffed the registration and Green Schools tables. The event was emceed by Cindy Bambini of Brightergy.

Many thanks to Jim, Lesli, Kim, Ralph, Kathleen, Tyler, Ed, Michele and Cindy for their service!