Archive for the ‘Green Buildings Are Better’ Category

Take action with the Drawdown EcoChallenge

Drawdown EcoChallenge Media Kit

Join the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter’s team in the Drawdown EcoChallenge to take action on the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming!

Join the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Drawdown EcoChallenge Team

Paul Hawken’s Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming  mapped, measured, and modeled 80 research-based actions that, if deployed collectively on a global scale over the next 30 years, offer humans the means to transform our climate crisis into just, livable world conditions. Project Drawdown’s research shows that rather than stopping global warming at 1.5-2 degrees Celsius, we can actually begin to reverse global warming by 2050, using technologies and practices that already exist and are scaling today.

That is why Project Drawdown and EcoChallenge are coming together to offer the Drawdown EcoChallenge from April 4 – April 25, 2018 (you can join at any point during the challenge.) Drawdown EcoChallenge is focused on carbon reduction and is a fun and social way to learn about and take action on the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming.

Check out a quick video to learn how to play!

video tutorial

 

St. Louis is lucky that the Northwest Earth Institute collected an extensive list of resources specific to our region!

 




We’re On A Mission – for Better, Greener Buildings that will Tackle the Challenge of Climate Change!

By Nick Bristow
Chair, USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Board of Directors

From existing buildings to new construction, we know that buildings play a crucial role in meeting the urgent challenge of climate change. According to the Energy Information Administration, buildings in the United States are responsible for over 40% of national greenhouse gas emissions. The City of St. Louis’s 2015 greenhouse gas inventory revealed that local impacts are much higher; residential and commercial buildings are responsible for over 60% of greenhouse gas emissions.

The critical time for climate action is now, and now more than ever, it’s critical that we change the way we build and operate our buildings. We must focus on wellness for building occupants and the planet, addressing existing and new buildings, inside and out.

It was with this imperative in mind that the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter’s Board of Directors drafted our 2018-2020 Strategic Directions. We plan to build on our 2017 momentum and move forward with three focus areas: foster green building leaders of the future, lead green building professional education, and advance green building through advocacy and community outreach.

I want to share some of our 2017 accomplishments today, and invite you to join us in the work ahead.

SigningWe continue to push for Better Buildings with Benchmarking. You know the saying, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure!” Energy and water benchmarking is the first step toward improved performance, cost savings, and reduced environmental impacts.

We significantly expanded our benchmarking work this year by helping the City of St. Louis with the passage and implementation of their Building Energy Awareness Ordinance. This work received recognition just last week with an Outstanding Local Government Achievement Award from East-West Gateway Council of Governments in the public-non-profit partnership category.

IMG_7145We were thrilled to assist Bethel Lutheran Church become the First House of Worship to earn ENERGY STAR Certification in Missouri! With an ENERGY STAR score of 81, Bethel Lutheran outperforms 81 percent of worship facilities nationwide. Their energy achievements are due to many years of dedicated work by the church’s Green Team. Our Advocacy Committee volunteers verified Bethel Lutheran’s ENERGY STAR application, confirming that energy and building data was correct and that the building meets EPA’s Indoor Environmental Quality and Thermal Comfort standards.

GSQ registrationOnce again we were blown away by the creativity and passion of students participating in our Green Schools Quest. Our Green Schools Quest paired 47 school-mentor teams for the 2016-2017 school year. Over 5,500 students and staff participated in sustainability projects, reaching an additional 20,000 community members. Projects ranged from energy audits & window weatherization to waste audits, material reuse & cafeteria composting! Participation in the 2017-18 school year is our highest levels yet; 57 school and mentor teams are participating in the fifth year of the Green Schools Quest!

ce-blitz-copyAnd we continue to provide excellent educational opportunities. From inspirational to in-depth, we covered a lot of topics this year – materials transparency, sustainability in construction administration, landscape performance, project delivery mapping, historic preservation & sustainability, lighting controls and much more!

We are on a mission – a mission to make every building a green building – and we cannot get there without your help. For over 15 years, we have been part of your community; advocating and educating for better, greener buildings. Support this important work by making a donation today!

Donate Now

Thank you,

Nick Bristow

Nick Bristow
2017 Chair, USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Board of Directors




Bethel Lutheran Church is First House of Worship to earn ENERGY STAR Certification in Missouri

Bethel Lutheran Church, located in University City, is the first worship facility to earn ENERGY STAR Certification in Missouri. ENERGY STAR Certification recognizes efficient energy use in buildings. With an ENERGY STAR score of 81, Bethel Lutheran Church outperforms 81 percent of worship facilities nationwide. Their energy achievements are due to many years of work by the church’s Green Team, which has spearheaded their environmental ministry of caring for creation.

In 2010, Bethel became a Green Congregation working with the national Lutherans Restoring Creation (LRC) program. Since 2013, Bethel has been working to increase their energy efficiency, reduce their carbon footprint, and save money through the LRC’s Energy Stewards initiative. As a participating congregation, they began to measure their energy use in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a free online tool that allows buildings to benchmark their energy use. Their initial results left plenty of room for improvement; they found that their baseline ENERGY STAR score was 36, well below average.

Johanna Schweiss (USGBC-MGC), Cindy Gross (Bethel Lutheran Church Green Team), and Linda Daniel (USGBC-MGC) with Bethel Lutheran Church's final ENERGY STAR Application. Johanna Schweiss (USGBC-MGC), Cindy Gross (Bethel Lutheran Church Green Team), and Linda Daniel (USGBC-MGC) with Bethel Lutheran Church’s final ENERGY STAR Application.

Bethel Lutheran Church conducted an energy audit in September 2013, and since that time their Board of Property and Maintenance has been working faithfully to implement big and small building improvements. These improvements include low and no cost changes such as sealing gaps around doors, as well as projects that required more investment but paid off with energy savings, including installing LED porch lights, installation of new heat pumps, furnace, and AC units, replacing windows, and transitioning to a zoned heating approach to reduce dependence on an old boiler. Bethel Lutheran installed solar panels in 2014.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the energy used by buildings in the United States is responsible for almost 40% of our national greenhouse gas emissions. By reducing their energy use, Bethel Lutheran Church not only lowered their energy bills, they reduced the environmental impacts associated with energy use, thus lowering their impact on poor regional air quality and global climate change.

“We are so inspired by Bethel Lutheran’s ENERGY STAR Certification. They are living their commitment to care for all of God’s creation,” stated Tracey Howe-Koch, coordinator of Missouri Interfaith Power and Light, a religious response to climate change. “By increasing their sanctuary’s energy efficiency, they are helping to ensure future generations are able to enjoy all that has been given to us. At Missouri Interfaith Power & Light we believe that people of faith are morally obligated to be good stewards of the environment. Bethel Lutheran is faithfully carrying out this charge and is a wonderful example of the impact one congregation can have.”

USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Volunteers Linda Daniels and Martha Martinko perform the facility walk-through required for ENERGY STAR Certification. USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter Volunteers Linda Daniel and Martha Martinko perform the facility walk-through required for ENERGY STAR Certification.

Volunteers with U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter verified Bethel Lutheran’s ENERGY STAR application. Led by licensed architect Linda Daniel, volunteers confirmed that Bethel Lutheran’s energy and building data was correct and that the building meets EPA’s Indoor Environmental Quality and Thermal Comfort standards. Linda stated “As a volunteer, it is exciting to work with building owners as their facility begins to perform better, their energy costs go down, and they reduce their carbon footprint. It was an honor to work with this congregation. Bethel Lutheran has diligently worked over several years to earn this certification, and it’s my understanding that they intend to continue working to reduce their energy use.”

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About Bethel Lutheran Church
Bethel Lutheran Church, a member church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, located in University City, Missouri, is a worshipping community that has set as its mission to work toward a sustainable relationship with our earth home, to follow the non-violent witness of Jesus and work for the restoration of life for those threatened and diminished by violence, and to be in dialogue and community with many in a multi-cultural and multi-religious world, globally connected in our need and compassion.
For more information: http://bethelstl.org/

About USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter
U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter (USGBC-MGC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community of members, advocates, and practitioners that give voice to our commitment to improve human health, support economies, and protect the environment through green buildings. The Missouri Gateway Chapter serves the community by educating and advocating for green building principles and practices, and believes that everyone deserves access to green and healthy spaces. They run a voluntary energy benchmarking campaign which promotes the use of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and ENERGY STAR Certification.
For more information: www.usgbc-mogateway.org.

About Missouri Interfaith Power & Light
Missouri Interfaith Power & Light (MO IPL) is a religious response to global warming and aims to engage, equip, and educate Missouri faith communities to be stewards of God’s creation by addressing the environmental and social justice consequences of climate change. MO IPL is one of 40 state affiliates of Interfaith Power & Light and works with congregations to model energy stewardship in their communities. There are over 14,000 congregations involved in national IPL programs.
For more information: www.moipl.org.

About ENERGY STAR certification
ENERGY STAR is a voluntary program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) helping businesses and individuals save energy and fight climate change through superior energy efficiency. Through ENERGY STAR, the nation’s most energy efficient buildings can earn ENERGY STAR certification. Since 1999, tens of thousands of buildings and plants across America — such as schools, hospitals, skyscrapers, retails stores, and manufacturing plants — have earned EPA’s ENERGY STAR for superior energy performance. On average, ENERGY STAR certified buildings use 35 percent less energy and cause 35 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than similar buildings.
For more information: https://www.energystar.gov/buildings/press-room 




Check Out Our 2016 Annual Report!

We are excited to share our 2016 Annual Report with you! Each year, the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter makes progress towards our goal of transforming the built environment. We are so proud of our accomplishments towards a greener future for our community, which is generously supported by our sponsors, leaders (board of directors & committees), members, volunteers, and donors. Thank you to all who made 2016 a success!

In 2016, we celebrated our 15 year anniversary as an organization dedicated to making every building a green building because we know that GREEN BUILDINGS ARE BETTER . . . better for people, better for the environment, and better for the bottom line.

Download a PDF of our 2016 Annual Report and learn about our work to make every building a green building! 

2016-USGBC-MGC_AnnualReport_Page_1




Green Buildings Are Better – Financial Performance

Guest post by John May, author of MoGreenStats.com

A study by the Department of Energy found that in green buildings net operating income was 28.8% higher than in non-green buildings. Missouri has more green buildings than Tennessee, but far fewer than Maryland.


The residential and commercial buildings in the U.S. consume about 40% of the nation’s total energy consumption. Green buildings use less energy, improve occupant health and productivity, and lower ownership risk. However, until recently researchers have lacked sufficient historical data to analyze the link between energy efficiency and financial performance because the information has been proprietary.

A recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy addressed this question. The authors were able to identify a set of 131 buildings for which the necessary data were available. Only buildings that met the following criteria were accepted into the study:

  • Market value per square foot was greater than $400.
  • Rent concessions in the building were greater than $0, but less than $3 per square foot.
  • Monthly rent in the building was greater than $6 per square foot.
  • Occupancy in the building was greater than 50%.

The authors then divided the buildings into two groups: buildings were “green” if they had an Energy Star score of 75 or higher (a measure of energy efficiency compared to other buildings of the same type) or if they had achieved LEED Certification. A discussion of what these criteria mean is below. Buildings were “non-green” if they did not meet either criteria. The result was 2 groups of buildings, green and non-green, each with more than 60 buildings in it.

The authors then compared the buildings on the following metrics:

  • Market value per square foot;
  • Net operating Income per square foot;
  • Operating expenses per square foot;
  • Rental income per square foot;
  • Rental concessions per square foot;
  • Occupancy rate.

table 1

Table 1. Comparison of Green and Non-Green Buildings on 6 Financial Performance Metrics. Source: Department of Energy, 2017.

Table 1 gives the results. Green buildings had higher market value, higher net operating income, higher rent, lower rental concessions, lower operating expenses, and higher occupancy rates. The differences in operating expenses and net operating income achieved statistical significance (p = 0.0089 and 0.0015 respectively), and the difference in market value approached it (p = 0.094).

Looking at Table 1, what jumps out is that net operating income was 28.8% higher in green buildings. Most of the increase seems to have come from reduced expenses, with a smaller contribution coming from increased rents.

table 2

Table 2. Source: Miller et al, 2008.

The Department of Energy study is not the only study to suggest better financial performance from green buildings. Table 2 summarizes results from 3 additional studies, all of which found that LEED and ENERGY STAR buildings generated higher rents, higher occupancy rates, and higher value per square foot.

fig 1

 

Figure 1. Data source: Green Building Information Gateway

So how many green buildings are there in Missouri? A database operated by the U.S. Green Building Council lists 389 LEED certifications in Missouri, covering 35.27 million square feet. Tennessee, Missouri, and Maryland are the 17th, 18th, and 19th most populous states in the country. Tennessee has 377 LEED certified activities (48.35 million square feet), and Maryland has 964 (11.4 million square feet). Figure 1 shows the data, with the number of LEED certified buildings in blue and the LEED certified square footage in red. Clearly, green building has caught on in Maryland to a much greater extent than it has here. It’s too bad – if you could deliver health benefits to those who live and work in a building, while at the same time improving its net operating income by 28.8%, you’d think that you’d want to do that, wouldn’t you?

Explanation of Energy Star and LEED Certification: ENERGY STAR is a building energy benchmarking program operated by the U.S. Department of Energy. Building owners enter their building’s energy consumption (from utility bills and similar sources) into a computer database. The database then compares the building’s energy consumption to that of other similar buildings. In other words, hospitals are compared to hospitals, schools to schools, office buildings to office buildings, etc. The program then gives each building a rating from 1-100, the higher the number the better the building’s energy performance. LEED is an acronym that stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. To achieve LEED certification, a building must incorporate a suite of technologies that improve the building’s environmental performance in a number of areas, from energy consumption to indoor air quality to water consumption, and others. The LEED system is administered by the U.S. Green Building Council.

MoGreenStats is now going on break for a few weeks. The next post will be scheduled for August 24, 2017. Happy trails ’til then.

Visit MoGreenStats, a blog exploring Missouri’s environmental statistics, to read more analysis of environmental statistics and reports. 

Sources:

Department of Energy. 2017. Utilizing Commercial Real Estate Owner and Investor Data to Analyze the Financial Performance of Energy Efficient, High Performance Office Buildings. Downloaded 7/9/2017 from https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2017/05/f34/bto_PilotResearchStudy-DOEFinancialDataInitiative_5-8-17.pdf.

Miller, Norm, Jay Spivey, and Andy Florance. 2008. Does Green Pay Off? Published by U.S. Department of Energy. Downloaded 7/10/2017 from https://www.energystar.gov/sites/default/files/buildings/tools/DoesGreenPayOff.pdf.

The Green Building Information Gateway, an online database operated by the U.S. Green Building Council. Data accessed online 7/9/2017 at http://www.gbig.org.




Green Buildings Are Better – Health

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. 

Sources:

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.