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.

Resourceful Schools Project: We Are One Ocean

Posted: November 30th, 2016

By Margaret Lilly, Environmental Representative, St. Louis County Department of Public Healthstl-county-health-blog-post


The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health Resourceful Schools Project (RSP) is a free resource to schools located in St. Louis County seeking to contribute to a more sustainable world.   Our current favorite program is helping schools make the St. Louis connection to ocean pollution.

The RSP unit “Plastic Pollution” helps students learn about the Mississippi watershed and the journey of plastic washed into our rivers that ends up in the North Atlantic Ocean.  As the plastic breaks into tiny pieces called microplastics, the particles are eaten by zooplankton enter our food chain at the most basic level.

Hands-On Learning

Through a lab experiment, students in 6th -12th grade identify tiny pieces of plastic by their resin number and compare the results with containers they found at home.  Schools combine this lesson with a related service project in their neighborhood by:

  • Being a part of a stream cleanup.
  • Conducting a litter patrol.
  • Constructing a sculpture using the recyclables found and displaying it at school to boost the recycling program.
  • Participating in the MSD stormwater art education project and painting a stormwater inlet near the school. RSP can provide the paint and supplies for schools in St. Louis County.

Using refillable bottles and installing water bottle filling stations may seem like a small way to “Green a School”.  By providing related education on the problem of microplastic pollution, using a refillable water bottle demonstrates that sometimes even the smallest choices we make matter, and that is a big deal!

To learn more about the free recycling and waste reduction programs and support we can provide for your school (including grants for water bottle filling stations!) please contact Margaret Lilly at mlilly@stlouisco.com or visit www.resourcefulschools.org

St Louis County Department of Public Health


A Look Back at 15 years of Green Building, a Look Forward to the Work Ahead

Posted: November 29th, 2016

By George Fujii, 2016 USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Board Chair

15 years ago, 15 dedicated volunteers came together to form an organization dedicated to green building education and advocacy, to making every building a green building, because they knew that Green Buildings Are Better.

In honor of this milestone, the U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter’s interactive Green Buildings Are Better display has been traveling throughout the region collecting your comments about how green buildings are better for living, working, learning, and playing. I thought I’d share a few highlights with you today.

Green buildings are better because “45% of U.S. emissions come from residential and commercial building operation – every green building counts!”

Green buildings use less energy, and consequently produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions and contribute less to global climate change. Nationally, energy used in buildings is responsible for almost half of our greenhouse gas emissions, and in the City of St. Louis commercial and residential buildings are the source of almost 70% of emissions (according to their 2010 greenhouse gas inventory). Buildings are an important piece of any effective climate action. Though reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings may seem like a challenge, in reality it is a huge opportunity!

Green buildings are better because “they cost less to operate”

All buildings, no matter how they were originally built, can become greener by pursuing energy efficiency strategies. The average building wastes 30% of the energy it consumes due to inefficiencies, according to the EPA, and many energy efficiency measures are possible through low and no cost operational improvements. Both Ameren Missouri and Laclede Gas offer financial incentives for energy efficiency measures, making improvements even more cost effective. No matter where you start, there are energy and cost savings to realize.

Green buildings are better for business and the bottom line beyond just their low operating costs. LEED buildings consistently demand competitive real estate prices, according to a 2014 peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Science and Technology.

And green construction creates jobs. A 2015 Green Building Economic Impact study prepared by Booz Allen Hamilton for the U.S. Green Building Council found that green construction in Missouri will account for more than 190,000 jobs and will generate over $11 billion in labor earnings by 2018.

Green buildings are better because “green buildings are healthy buildings”

As Americans, we spend 90% of our time indoors, and the indoor environmental quality of the buildings we inhabit has a big impact on our health. According to a recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health, people that work in green certified buildings have higher cognitive function scores, better quality sleep, and fewer health symptoms than workers in other buildings. They also reported a higher sense of satisfaction with their work environment. The greatest cognitive function differences were seen in crisis response, the ability to make decisions with overall goals in mind, the ability to focus on the situation at hand, and strategizing. Pretty important functions for all employees, no matter their industry.

Once you consider that 90% of the costs of operating a building are associated with the people inside of it, the benefit of pursuing the positive productivity impacts of green building start to make a lot of sense. Building owners are paying attention; a recent SmartMarket report by Dodge Data & Analytics revealed that 67% of building owners are interested in creating healthier buildings for people.

Green buildings are better because “They help build a sustainable future”

As we look forward to the next 15 years, I hope you join us as we strive to make every building a green building. For the sake of our economy, for the sake of our health, for the sake of our future, I encourage you to consider making a donation to support this important work this holiday season.

Donate Now

Wishing you the best,

George Fujii

2016 USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Board Chair

Nominate a Volunteer for Above + Beyond Recognition!

Posted: October 26th, 2016


The USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter is committed to recognizing volunteers who have contributed significantly to the Chapter, devoting time and talents “above and beyond” on a particular project or program. We are currently seeking Above + Beyond nominations for volunteers that have performed outstanding work over the past year!

Please complete this online form to nominate a current volunteer for Above + Beyond recognition. Nominations are due on December 31st by 11:59 pm.

Nominated volunteers will be recognized at the State of the Chapter and Social in January of 2017.

Announcing the winners of our 5th Annual Photo Contest

Posted: October 20th, 2016

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 USGBC-MGC Photo Contest! In honor of the Chapter’s 15 year anniversary, the theme of this year’s contest was Green Buildings Are Better.

The contest was open to all residents of the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter territory (Missouri & Southern Illinois). A panel of judges rated photos anonymously to award 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes. Attendees at our October 18 program Perennial Polycultures: Sustainable, Edible Landscapes had the opportunity to vote for the people’s choice award.

And the winners are (drumroll, please)….

Roxanne Nagel, 1st Place WinnerFor her first place winning photo, “A Safe Haven,” Roxanne won a complimentary home energy audit from SmartHouse Heating and Cooling and a print of her photo courtesy of NovaColor.
Peter Baechle, 2nd Place WinnerFor his second place winning photo of a Webster University rain garden, Peter wins one year of Missouri Botanical Garden membership, a retail gift card, and a print of his photo courtesy of NovaColor.
Steve O’Rourke, 3rd Place WinnerFor his third place winning photo, “Rain Garden,” Steve wins a free pass to a USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter In-Depth Educational Seminar, a retail gift card, and a print of his photo courtesy of NovaColor.
Roxanne Nagel, People’s Choice AwardRoxanne’s photo “Roof with a View” was selected for the People’s Choice Award by attendees of Perennial Polycultures: Sustainable, Edible Landscapes. Roxanne wins her choice of retail gift card, and a print of his photo courtesy of NovaColor.
Many thanks to the following establishments for their prize donations!
 SmartHouse Heating & Cooling

Hendel’s Restaurant
Cork Wine Bar


Large Scale Rainscaping Grants Program Deadline October 31,2016

Posted: October 3rd, 2016


Rainscaping is any combination of plantings, water features, catch basins, permeable pavement, and other activities that manage stormwater as close as possible to where it falls, rather than moving it someplace else. Below ground level, improved soils store and filter stormwater, allowing the surrounding area to slowly absorb it over time. Above ground level, native plants, basins, and water features create public green spaces that also help store water. Used effectively, rainscaping can reclaim stormwater naturally, reduce sewer overflows, and minimize basement backups.

The Rainscaping program of MSD Project Clear has announced  the fifth round of a rainscaping cost-sharing opportunity. MSD seeks to continue to build partnerships with municipalities, local government agencies, schools, community development organizations, and private developers through the Rainscaping Large Scale Grants Program.

Visit the Project Clear Website for the rules and requirements for partnering with MSD Project Clear, an application form, and a map showing the program area for the Rainscaping projects. Please note that the application deadline for the 2016 round of Rainscaping Large Scale Grants is 5:00pm on October 31, 2016.

Benchmarking Case Study: Clayco

Posted: September 1st, 2016

08 28 2016_Clayco Case Study The 25×20 Voluntary Energy Benchmarking Campaign challenges buildings in the St. Louis Region to benchmark their energy use. Energy benchmarking is the key to unlocking potential energy and cost savings. Since the campaign was launched, businesses, local governments, houses of worship, schools, and institutions have pledged to benchmark their energy use! 25×20 participants include Clayco, now featured in a benchmarking case study.

Clayco has been using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to benchmark their St. Louis office since 2007. Using this tool gave them a baseline, as well as the motivation to raise their score. As a result of energy saving strategies and building improvements that they have implemented since 2007, their ENERGY STAR score has more than doubled. Clayco has already met their goal to reduce their energy use 25% by the year 2020!

Four years ago, Clayco implemented on-going commissioning of the building, and has more recently started monitoring-based commissioning (Both of these commissioning strategies are new paths for enhanced commissioning in LEED v4). Through monitoring-based commissioning, they were able to realize energy savings with improvements to their economizer and morning warm up controls. They achieved even greater energy savings by updating their 1994 HVAC building management system programming with the latest 2016 energy savings controls, without any added cost.

Since taking the 25×20 Energy Benchmarking Pledge, they have seen months with as much as a 40% energy savings from their 2013 baseline. This amazing reduction in energy usage has helped Clayco reach their 25×20 goal several years ahead of schedule. They will also be close to ENERGY STAR Certification by the end of the year.

As well as energy savings, there have also been improvements to the interior environment including: greater amounts of outdoor air, faster regulation of temperature to within the thermal comfort zone, improved acoustic quality, and more responsive thermostat control. Through monitoring-based commissioning, potential issues have been resolved before they become an occupant issue. Clayco has been implementing changes based on user feedback, and has enough feedback to conclude that user comfort has increased along with the energy savings.

Clayco is a full-service, turnkey real estate, architecture, engineering, design-build and construction firm, which was founded in 1984. Clayco has over 1,645 employees, offices in Chicago and St. Louis, and projects across the country.

You can view the full case study online here. Visit the 25×20 page of our website to see a full list of participants, browse other benchmarking case studies or take the 25×20 pledge! Contact Chapter staff at usgbc-mogateway@mobot.org to be featured in a benchmarking case study.


USGBC’s Annual School District Scholarship Applications Open Through August 19

Posted: August 9th, 2016

USGBC’s Center for Green Schools has opened the call for applicants for the 2016-2017 School District Scholarship.

The annual School District Scholarship provides support to a school district staff member who is currently undertaking sustainability work across the district’s schools. These staff receive targeted education and technical support from the Center and its partners for the entire school year, including

  • Travel, lodging and attendance at the Green Schools Conference and the pre-conference summit for School Sustainability Leaders.
  • Travel, lodging and attendance at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo.
  • $3,000 grant to assist in implementing a high-impact sustainability project.
  • Ongoing training through personal and small group coaching.
  • Limited complimentary year-long access to several school resources from USGBC, including Learning Lab, the Green Classroom Professional Certificate, and LEED Coach for school projects.

Applications are due August 19th. Click here to learn more and apply!


Nominations Open for 2017 Board Members!

Posted: July 25th, 2016

USGBC-Missouri Gateway currently has two (2) Director seats and three (3) Advisor seats open for our board of directors. We are seeking nominations for the 2 Director seats. All terms begin in 2017. Nominations are due by 5 pm Central Time on Friday, August 19, 2016. 

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 2016 board meeting.

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:

EPA & AIA partner to offer CEUs for pro-bono ENERGY STAR verification

Posted: July 21st, 2016

The American Institute of Architects and EPA have partnered to allow architects that verify an ENERGY STAR application pro-bono to earn up to 8 annual Health, Safety and Welfare (HSW) continuing education units.

Earn AIA CEUs while supporting a congregation, school, non-profit or government building!

Registered architects who attend a no-cost ENERGY STAR training webinar will earn one CEU. Those who validate, pro bono, one or more building applications for ENERGY STAR certification will receive seven HSW CEUs, for a total of 8 CEUs annually.

To earn CEUs from AIA, registered architects must:

  1. Sign up to attend one of the free one-hour training sessions on how to verify applications for ENERGY STAR certification.
  2. Pass a short EPA administered quiz to demonstrate knowledge of EPA expectations. Quiz will be accessible at the end of the training session.
  3. Be matched with a building that requests pro-bono verification. Contact Johanna Schweiss to be connected with a building in the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter territory.
  4. Verify your client building’s utility bills, operational details, and indoor environmental conditions. Affix your professional stamp to the ENERGY STAR application.
  5. Submit the signed verification letter to EPA. Once your client has submitted the completed ENERGY STAR application, you will receive continuing education credit(s) from AIA.

More details about this partnership between ENERGY STAR and AIA is available on the ENERGY STAR website.

Earn GBCI CE Hours too!

USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter volunteers may self report 1 GBCI CE hour for each hour served performing application verification. CE Hours are in the Volunteering category, which may account for up to 50% of total hours required by LEED Green Associate or LEED AP.

Interested? Be in touch!

The USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter will be connecting interested volunteers and building representatives to verify ENERGY STAR applications. Email Johanna Schweiss if you’d like to volunteer.

If you represent a non-profit, school, congregational, or government building and are interested in pursuing ENERGY STAR certification, we’re here to help! Email Johanna Schweiss to get started.

LEED Project Profile: Lofts of Washington University

Posted: July 6th, 2016

WU LoftThe Lofts of Washington University is the latest LEED project to be featured in a USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter LEED Project Profile!

The project, located in University City’s Delmar Loop, earned 84 points and received Platinum certification in LEED New Construction BD+C v2009 in December 2014. In addition to providing much-needed student housing for 414 students, the four buildings encompassing the project are a seamless part of the Loop’s busy streetscape. The building houses a 24-hour diner and a grocery store.

Many energy and water saving features were incorporated into the project,  along with the careful attention paid walkability and access to transit. Congrats to Washington University in St. Louis on their first LEED Platinum Project! Learn more by reading the full project profile.