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.

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.

Check out our 2014 Annual Report!

Posted: July 30th, 2015









We believe that everyone deserves to live, work and learn in a green and healthy building. Our volunteers and staff work to advance the quality of life in our region – educating about green building, advocating for healthier environments, and establishing partnerships to improve our built environment. Every year, we make progress towards the goal of transforming the built environment. And 2014 was no exception. We are excited to share our 2014 Annual Report with you!

Here are a few highlights from last year:

  • 180 volunteers contributed over 3,500 hours to our mission!
  • Wrapped up the inaugural Green Schools Quest. 24 school / mentor teams had nearly 3,000 staff & student participants and reached over 15,000 students, staff and community members! The second round of the Quest (2014-2015) paired 38 schools with 40 mentors.
  • Launched the 25 x 2o Voluntary Energy Benchmarking Campaign in partnership with the St. Louis Regional Chamber, the St. Louis High Performance Building Initiative, and Missouri Interfaith Power & Light.
  • 30 Chapter Volunteers completed our 2nd LEED Community Project, giving over 550 hours to the greening of the Dennis and Judith Jones Visitor & Education Center in Forest Park.
  • Awarded 10 complimentary energy audits for congregations in partnership with Missouri Interfaith Power & Light.

Thanks to our leadership, committees, volunteers, members, sponsors and donors for making 2014 a success!

You can view or download the entire 2014 Annual Report as a PDF or as an online magazine.

4th Annual Photo Contest submission deadline extended!

Posted: July 24th, 2015

2015 PHOTO CONTEST extendedThe USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter’s Marketing Committee invites you to participate in the 4th Annual Photo Contest! For the first time, photographers are invited to share images around a theme – from recycling to upcycling.

The contest is open to all residents of the Missouri Gateway Chapter territory (territory map). The deadline has been extended until September 30, 2015 at 11:59 pm. 

First, Second and Third Prizes will include restaurant gift cards, prints of the winning photos, a free year of USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter membership, and more!

To submit your photo, check out the photo contest rules, then email it (in jpg form) to usgbcmogatewayphoto@gmail.com

Katie Belisle-Iffrig Releases Book “Going Green for the GENIUS”

Posted: July 23rd, 2015

St. Louis biologist, botanist, author, and sustainability consultant, Dr. Katie Belisle-Iffrig is the co-chair of the USGBC- MGC’s Green Schools Committee. Katie’s newly released book Going Green for the GENIUS is an informative and engaging primer on environmental and sustainability issues ranging from climate change and urban farming to the personal choices we can all make to create a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

You can learn more about Going Green for the GENIUS on the publisher’s website or amazon.com. Learn more about Katie in her member profile.

Explore the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter’s online Member Directory to learn more about all our members. Visit the Green Building Experts page to learn more about members that have been recognized for their green building advocacy, promotion, and expertise.


Mary Ostafi Featured in New York Times, Huffington Post, and St. Louis Post Dispatch

Posted: July 23rd, 2015

Mary Ostafi orig-croppedMary Ostafi, AIA, LEED® AP BD+C, left a position as Sustainability Program Manager, Washington University in St. Louis, to become Executive Director of Urban Harvest STL and Farm Manager of the FOOD ROOF, an enterprise she founded, which the New York Times and the Huffington Post featured on July 1. Four days later, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Mary’s downtown, rooftop farm, which exemplifies numerous green building tenets, including urban revitalization and local resources.

Links to these articles and more are on Urban Harvest’s website here. Learn more about Mary in her USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter member profile here.

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