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 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. 


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:

Now Accepting Proposals for 2018 Educational Programs

Posted: June 28th, 2017

USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter is accepting proposals for educational programs to be offered in 2018.

USGBC-MGC strives to offer a diverse selection of educational programs to educate our members and community on current green building principles and practices and to expand the opportunities for LEED Professionals to gain continuing education hours.

We are particularly seeking in-depth workshops – extended consideration of topics to build upon green building professionals’ existing knowledge.

Call for Proposals Issued June 28, 2017.
Proposals due by Friday, August 25, 2017 at 11:59 PM CST.
Selected Speakers notified by November 8, 2017.

Preferred topics include:

  • Buildings & Human Health
  • Innovations in Green Building Technology
  • Restorative & Regenerative Buildings
  • Building Performance: Benchmarking & Ongoing Operational Performance
  • Owner & Occupant Experiences with Green Buildings
  • Community & Cultural Context
  • LEED v4
  • WELL, SITES, PEER, Edge, GRESB, Parksmart
  • Water
  • Energy & Atmosphere
  • Materials & Resources
  • Sustainable Sites
  • Transportation
  • Utility Infrastructure
  • Costs & Benefits

Think outside of the box, and support USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter’s efforts to offer a diverse selection of programs to educate our members and community on current green building principles and practices!


Save the Date: Water Justice Continuing Education Blitz on October 17

Posted: June 12th, 2017

From the Philosophical to the Spigot: A forum discussing water policies, use, access, and quality in the Mississippi River Basin.

Who owns water in the United States? Who determines its use? Who protects it? The answers to these questions are in some ways both everyone and no one.

And yet in a time of increased demand and growing climate instability, not just in the United States, but around the world, the answers–and the questions–are more important all the time.

On October 17, 2017, join us for a full day of presentations about what’s happening in the Mississippi River Basin, from the headwaters to the delta, as we discuss water from a global to a local perspective –trying, along the way, to determine a better future for our most valuable resource.

More details to come!

Urgency & Resolve In the Face of the US Exit from the Paris Agreement

Posted: June 5th, 2017

The USGBC-Missouri Gateway is deeply disappointed in the administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

This decision makes our regional green building work even more urgent. For over 15 years, we’ve been educating on the importance of climate action and greenhouse gas emissions reduction, supporting building designers, building operators, and local governments to reduce their environmental impacts. We’ve been advocating for green building policies that conserve natural resources, reduce costs, and improve human health.

Our Regional Environmental Internship Program has supported six local governments to complete greenhouse gas inventories and climate action plans. Our 25×20 Voluntary Energy Benchmarking Campaign has engaged over 80 building owners and operators to commit to benchmark their building energy use, the first step toward energy and emissions reduction. And our leadership were instrumental in the passage of the City of St. Louis’ Building Energy Awareness Ordinance.

With urgency and resolve, we will continue this important work. As the national USGBC says in their statement, “Today, our efforts continue unabated and with commitment and hope that’s stronger than ever.” We hope you join us in our work to transform the built environment and speed our transition to a low carbon economy. Become a member, sign on to the 25×20 Energy Benchmarking Campaign, and start making a difference!

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

Posted: May 10th, 2017

Membership Contest

The USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter’s Membership & Marketing Committee is excited to announce a second membership contest!

From May 9 to June 12, new and renewing members will be entered into a drawing for:

  • $50 gift card to Three Kings Public House, a Green Dining Alliance Certified restaurant
  • $50 American Express gift card donated by St. Louis Lighting Group
  • A free tour for 12 of EarthDance Farms.

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 Saint Louis Zoo membership!

Winners will be drawn on June 13 at the Monthly Evening Program.

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!

Contest Details


  • Drawing Open:  March 9, 2017 @ 12:00 am- June 12, 2017 @ 11:59 pm
  • Winners Drawn: June 13, 2017 at Monthly Evening Program

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 Saint Louis Zoo Membership


  • Drawing Prizes
    • $50 gift card to Three Kings Public House, a Green Dining Alliance Certified restaurant
    • $50 American Express gift card donated by St. Louis Lighting Group
    • A free tour for 12 of EarthDance Farms.
  • The member making the most referrals will win 1 year of Saint Louis Zoo membership


Many thanks to the following  for their prize donations!
St Louis Zoo
Saint Louis Zoo
three-kings-public-houseGreen Dining Alliance
Three Kings Public House, a 4 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.
Saint Louis Lighting Group
EarthDance Farms sustainably grows food, farmers and community, one small farm at a time, through hands-on education and delicious experiences.






Explore the WELL Building Standard with the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter

Posted: April 14th, 2017



Developed in partnership with leading physicians, scientists, and industry professionals, The WELL Building Standard® (WELL) is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact the health and well-being of the people who live, work, and learn in these buildings.

Join the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter at two upcoming events to explore this hot sustainability topic! 


Tuesday, May 9
Growing Green: A Green Building Showcase

The 2017 Green Building Showcase will feature buildings from several different green building rating systems.

We will get the inside story on the following projects:
HOK will share insight from a gap analysis they have recently performed on their St. Louis office space, currently pursuing LEED v4 for Commercial Interiors.  The analysis details measures needed to take the building from where it currently stands to achieve the preconditions and optimizations needed for WELL Building Certification.
UNIGROUP will detail the progress they have made throughout their participation in the 25×20 Energy Benchmarking Challenge, including an exploration of how their building earned Energy Star Certification.
Attendees will learn about the progress being made on a major renovation for the LEED certification of The Armory District.

Submitted for approval of 1 GBCI CE Hour and 1 AIA LU/HSW

Tuesday, May 9, 2017, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
5:30-6:15 pm –Registration & Networking
6:15-7:30 pm – Formal Presentation

Sheet Metal Workers Local 36, 2319 Chouteau, Suite 200 (63103)

Free for USGBC-MGC Members and Students
Free for Green Business Challenge Participants 
$20 for Non-members

Click here to register online


Tuesday, May 23
WELL Accredited Professional Exam Prep Course

The WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP) credential signifies knowledge in human health and wellness in the built environment, and specialization in the WELL Building Standard. To become a WELL AP, candidates must pass the WELL AP exam. This course, designed to prepare attendees for the WELL AP exam, will provide attendees with a comprehensive understanding of WELL, including the seven concepts that provide the framework for the building standard: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort and Mind.

Developed in partnership with leading physicians, scientists, and industry professionals, WELL is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact the health and well-being of the people who live, work, and learn in these buildings.

The WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP) credential signifies knowledge in human health and wellness in the built environment, and specialization in the WELL Building Standard. To become a WELL AP, candidates must pass the WELL AP exam.


Monica Miller, WELL AP, LEED AP BD+C, LEED AP O+M, Sustainable Design Manager, ThyssenKrupp Elevator

monica-34-b-2-bwMonica Miller is ThyssenKrupp Elevator’s Sustainable Design Manager and serves ThyssenKrupp as a resource for all LEED project requests for information. Monica is also a licensed landscape architect. Her previous experience as a project manager for design and construction projects both internationally and in the United States, allows her to fully understand the construction and design process. She has participated on LEED project teams and led ThyssenKrupp’s manufacturing facility to achieve LEED Gold in 2015. Monica is also a Living Building Challenge Ambassador advocating for the growth of the Living Building Challenge.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
9:00 – 5:00 pm 

Professional Office Environments (POE)
222 Millwell Drive
Maryland Heights, MO, 63043

$200 for USGBC-MGC Members
$250 for Non-members 

Fee does not include required texts or exam fees
Fee includes continental breakfast and lunch

WELL AP Exam Preparation Guide, International WELL Building Institute, available for purchase here.

Click here to register online

Advocacy Alert: #DefendClimate and Sign USGBC’s Letter to Preserve EPA Programs, including ENERGY STAR

Posted: March 29th, 2017

The United States Office of Management and Budget released its plan for the proposed 2018 budget, which includes elimination of or deep cuts to vital programs.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy StarWaterSense and Safer Choice programs are all in jeopardy.

USGBC and many others in the building industry rely on these tools from EPA to create and sustain high performing green buildings! Our 20 x 20 Voluntary Energy Benchmarking Campaign uses ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to help building owners track and improve their energy performance. Portfolio Manager is also the basis for earning energy performance credits in LEED Building Operations + Maintenance. It is free tool with a proven track record that helps reduce energy use, lower energy costs, and protect the health of humans and the environment. Win-win-win!

SIGN USGBC’s LETTER NOW to ensure that the Energy Star, WaterSense and Safer Choice programs at EPA continue. 

Want to do more? Contact your elected official directly and let your support for these programs be heard. Below are a few talking points about ENERGY STAR that might be helpful.

  • ENERGY STAR is the most widely recognized symbol for energy efficiency, with a brand awareness of about 90%.
  • In 2015 alone, American consumers and businesses saved over $34 billion with the help of ENERGY STAR.
  • Since 1992, ENERGY STAR has assisted companies and consumers save $430 billion on utility bills.
    Approximately 45% of the commercial building floor space in the U.S. has been benchmarked for tracking and analyzing energy consumption using ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager.
  • Since 1999, ENERGY STAR has certified more than 28,000 buildings and more than 5 billion square feet of space.
  • ENERGY STAR has more than 3,100 home builder partners who constructed almost 1.8 million certified new homes since 1995. Many of these properties also pursue additional private sector certifications like LEED.

Additionally, President Trump recently signed an executive order rolling back the Clean Power Plan. This threatens our ability to limit and deal with climate change. We encourage you to contact your elected officials to express your support of the need to #DefendClimate. A few talking points below:

  • Climate change threatens human health and our ability to continue doing business. Secretary of Defense James Mattis recently asserted that climate change is real and a threat to American national security.
  • In a recent poll, 59% of voters oppose a repeal of climate change regulations.
  • Climate action is necessary to protect our future.

Find your elected officials contact information below:

USGBC will continue to monitor the budget situation and keep membership updated, but please feel free to be in touch with USGBC-Missouri Gateway staff or leadership if you want to get more involved!