Archive for the ‘Building Carbon Footprints’ Category

Energy Efficiency & the Split Incentive Problem

Energy Efficiency & the Split Incentive Problem: Reframing Investment in Energy Efficiency for Building Owners and Tenants

YouTube thumbnail image of cover for event recording. Photo of brick houses in background with text on top in white with blue background reading, "Tuesday July 12, 2022 Solving the Split-Incentive Problem - Reframing Investment in Energy Efficiency for Building Owners & Tenants. Presented in partnership with Building Energy Exchange St. Louis and U.S. Green Building Council-Missouri Gateway Chapter. Register for monthly evening programs: Right side with Missouri Gateway Chapter logo at top and BE-Ex STL logo on bottom right and salmon colored background with navy text reading, "@usgbcmogateway SPEAKER - Aaron Michels, Director of Operations, Energy Resources Group, Inc. PANELISTS - Kevin Bryant, Executive Founder, Developer & President, Kingsway Development. Jon Nichols, Director of Sustainability, Antheus Capital & Mac Development. Tristan Walker, Principal, Heritage Properties St. Louis."
LIVE recording, July 12, 2022 – Solving The Split Incentive Problem presentation and panelist discussion.

On the evening of July 12th, 2022, U.S. Green Building Council—Missouri Gateway Chapter hosted our monthly educational program with Building Energy Exchange St. Louis, a project of Missouri Gateway Chapter, at Rockwell Beer Company. Fueled by delicious appetizers and an open bar, the 53 attendees of the event listened to speaker Aaron Michels, Director of Operations at Energy Resources Group, Inc., discuss energy efficiency and energy inefficiency. Michels’ presentation first defined for us what the split incentive problem is, before going into consequences, case studies, and potential remedies of the issue. As defined by Michels,  

the split incentive problem is when landlords lack the appropriate incentives to implement energy efficiency measures, not only costing their tenants money, but also negatively impacting the environment by releasing more pollutants than necessary.  

Michels also highlighted how low-income tenants face energy poverty or a higher energy burden, meaning they allocate significantly more of their household income to energy expenditures than other renters. Since tenants have little power in the rental arrangement, this is a difficult situation to absolve. 

Photograph of audience in beer brewing event space. Attendees, sitting at high top tables, foreground, and in chairs with presenter and presentation screen in distance.
July 12, 2022 evening educational program attendees at Rockwell Beer Company while Aaron Michels presents, “Solving The Split Incentive Problem – Reframing Investment in Energy Efficiency for Building Owners & Tenants.”

However, Michels did provide some ideas for eliminating the issue. First, he proposed a need for increased awareness, education, and outreach among owners, tenants, and the brokerage community about the value of green leases. A green lease, in simple terms, is   

a rental agreement whereby a tenant shares the cost burden of sustainability initiatives with the building owner1.

These initiatives include expenses such as water and energy conservation, waste reduction, and recycling. Initially these investments will likely infer a cost on the parties, but will ultimately lead to savings down the line, as energy bills can be greatly decreased. 

Another remedy could be energy efficiency mortgages (PACE financing)—externally funded loans attached to the property. A benefit of this action is that capital improvements can be done at one time but paid off in installments. A third solution is on-bill financing, where capital improvements are tied directly to utility company payments and for large residential; increased incentives to counter the split incentive. On a more macro level, green building codes can be stricter, which has the potential to benefit all new housing developments, including buildings for low-income tenants. An additional policy response that has the potential to be effective is a weatherization assistance program, engaging tenants to help improve their leased space.

Photograph of 3 panelists and 1 presenter sitting at a table, inside a beer brewing event space, while attendees, 4 people pictures crowd the table for conversation. Five, large silver beer cellar tanks in background.
Speaker far right in blue, Aaron Michels and panelists from right to left; Tristan Walker, Jon Nichols, and Kevin Bryant with program attendees after Q&A at Rockwell Beer Co.

After we had a clear and comprehensive perspective on the split incentive problem, members had the opportunity to ask questions to a series of panelists who are experts in their field. The panelists included: 

  • Kevin Bryant, Executive Founder, Developer & President of Kingsway Development 
  • Jon Nichols, Director of Sustainability at Antheus Capital & Mac Development  
  • Tristan Walker, Principal of Heritage Properties St. Louis 

There were multitudes of questions ranging from “how can landlords/management companies be incentivized to improve energy efficiency” to “what can individuals do if they have a short-term lease, but still want to improve energy efficiency.”  

It was clear from the diversity and number of questions that the audience was engaged and excited to learn about the tangible changes that can be made to improve our energy footprint. I believe it is fair to say that every attendee left the program with new ideas and hope for a more equitable and environmental future. If you were not able to attend this event and would like to see what you missed, view the July 12, 2022 program recording, Solving the Split Incentive Problem – Reframing Investment in Energy Efficiency for Building Owners & Tenants.

YouTube thumbnail image of cover for event recording. Photo of rooftop solar panels with St. Louis Arch in background with text on top in navy blue with orange-yellow background reading, "Tuesday July 12, 2022 Building Energy Performance Standards - Info Session. Presented in partnership with Building Energy Exchange St. Louis and U.S. Green Building Council-Missouri Gateway Chapter. Register for monthly evening programs: Right side with Missouri Gateway Chapter logo at top and BE-Ex STL logo on bottom right and salmon colored background with navy text reading, "@usgbcmogateway SPEAKER - James Kelly, Civil servant for the City of St. Louis, Office of Building Operations. Cara Spencer, (previous) Building Energy Exchange St. Louis (BE-Ex STL) Director, Alderperson, City of St. Louis."
LIVE recording, July 12, 2022 – Building Energy Performance Standards Info Session & Building Energy Exchange St. Louis presentation.


Bird, S., & Hernández, D. (2012, September 1). Policy options for the split incentive: Increasing energy efficiency for low-income renters. Energy policy. Retrieved August 3, 2022, from  

Building Energy Performance Standards Info Session – Building Energy Exchange St. Louis, City STL. YouTube. (2022, July 23). Retrieved August 3, 2022, from  

YouTube. (n.d.). Usgbcmogateway YouTube. YouTube. Retrieved August 3, 2022, from 

A reflection post of the July evening educational program, “Solving The Split Incentive Problem – Reframing Investment in Energy Efficiency for Building Owners & Tenants” with resource links and live event recordings; written by Avery McCammon, Washington University in St. Louis undergrad student, summer 2022.

USGBC Product Solutions Showcase

Join USGBC for a three-day dynamic and interactive event to learn about sustainable products that reduce carbon emissions, energy, water and waste consumption while also enhancing health, resiliency and circularity AND improve LEED performance and process. Win – Win – Win!
Plus earn continuing education credit!

Learn more or register!

Flyer promoting 2022 USGBC Prodcut Solutions Showcase. Rectangle with U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) logo top left and illustration of woman on laptop sitting down with illustrated product icons floating. Title reads, "2022 Community Education Series - Product Solutions Showcase"

July 26 – 28, 2022
12:00 pm – 2:30 pm CT each day

WHERE: Online!

If you are a current USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter member, you can attend for FREE. E-mail for the promo code to attend for free. Not a Missouri Gateway Member? JOIN OR RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP NOW!

  • USGBC Community Members – FREE
  • Student / Emerging Professional – $5.00
  • Non Member – $10.00


  • Tuesday, July 26 – Energy & Carbon
  • Wednesday, July 27 – Waste & Circularity
  • Thursday, July 28 – Water & Health

Sacred Heart Catholic School Shines Light on Benefits of Energy Efficiency Measures

Sacred Heart Catholic School, located in Florissant, is a K-8 school specializing in Roman Catholic Education. Last summer, an LED retrofit of the entire building was executed, which has saved the school just over $11,000 in energy costs, 113,000 kWh of energy, and 93 tons of CO2.

Read the full case study here. Or check out some of our other case studies!

Benchmarking & Energy Efficiency Case Studies

We’re collecting benchmarking and energy efficiency case studies to showcase how our Existing Buildings can be Climate Heroes. Got a good energy efficiency success story to share? Contact us at

Sacred Heart Catholic School, located in Florissant, is a K-8 school specializing in Roman Catholic Education. Last summer, an LED retrofit of the entire building was executed, which has saved the school just over $11,000 in energy costs, 113,000 kWh of energy, and 93 tons of CO2.

Read the full case study.

Bauer Equity Partners is located an eighth of a mile from the I-70 and West Florissant Avenue interchange in the City of St. Louis. Previously a dairy bottling plant, the building has undergone numerous renovations in order to reduce energy consumption, improve access and reduce stormwater runoff. Since the solar panel and white roof installation, the building has realized a 66% reduction of electric consumption.
Read the full case study.

City of Clayton – Bonhomme and Brentwood Parking Garages have both undergone major renovations to reduce overall energy consumption. From lighting improvements to solar panels, these two buildings are seeing significant savings. The Bonhomme Garage saves $3,000 per month and the Brentwood Garage saves $22,000 a year. Read the full case study.

Parkway Schools’ portfolio consists of more than 34 buildings and 3.3 million square feet. In 2017, Parkway School District improved energy performance by 11% from a 2015 baseline, making progress towards a goal of 20% by 2025. Energy savings were achieved by implementing outdoor LED lighting retrofits and dimming controls across all properties. Learn more about their progress to date, implemented projects and more on the Better Buildings Challenge website.

600 Washington

600 Washington, is a 25-story office building. Formerly known as One City Center, it is a 375,000 square foot office building with a variety of tenants, including several large legal and accounting firms. Read the full 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. Read the full case study


UniGroup is a $1.7 billion transportation and relocation services company with headquarters in suburban St. Louis. UniGroup has embraced sustainability as a smart way to achieve cost savings. The company’s Director of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability led the charge to monitor energy usage, enabling the company to identify issues and resolve them quickly. As a result, they achieved the coveted ENERGY STAR certification. The company took full advantage of utility rebate programs to maximize the return on investments in energy-related projects. Read the full case study.

RFQ for Energy Resource Hub Business Plan

USGBC-MGC seeks qualifications for a Regional Energy Resource Hub business plan.

For the past several years, we have been working closely with the City of St. Louis to advance policies that help the City meet its climate goals, focusing on policies that drive energy efficiency in our largest buildings. In 2017, the City passed a Building Energy Awareness policy requiring buildings that are 50,000 square feet and greater to report their energy and water use to the City annually. More recently, the City passed a Building Energy Performance Standard, which requires large buildings to make improvements to meet an energy performance target by 2025. The City’s work has been a catalyst for greater energy efficiency in the built environment for the City and the entire region.

As building owners begin working to comply with the City’s proposed performance standard, we anticipate they will need support. To assist building owners comply with the City’s Building Energy Performance Policy and to assist other buildings throughout our region make energy efficiency and renewable energy investments in their buildings, USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter would like to launch a Regional Energy Resource Hub.

Qualifications are due July 17 at 5 pm.

Read the full RFQ here.

FAQs as of July 1, 2020

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!


USGBC-MGC Seeks Benchmarking Intern

USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter seeks a Benchmarking Intern to assist with our regional voluntary energy benchmarking efforts.

APPLICATIONS ARE DUE by midnight on Sunday, March 18. Please e-mail a cover letter and resume to Include contact information for two references with resume.

The Benchmarking Intern will assist USGBC-Missouri Gateway Staff and Advocacy Committee volunteers with outreach to local municipalities and other building owners to encourage participation in the Chapter’s voluntary benchmarking campaign. Work will primarily focus on assisting building owners with the process of benchmarking buildings in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

Please review the full Benchmarking Intern Job Description here.

To learn more about USGBC-Missouri Gateway’s benchmarking work, please visit:

Phil Valko describes “An Architectural Twin Study,” which he co-led, in Archinect

WashingtPhil Valko photo_3on University’s Phil Valko, assistant vice chancellor for sustainability, and Don Koster, senior lecturer in architecture, have led an innovative multi-disciplinary applied research project called the Green Rehab Experiment. The project centered on the renovation and subsequent energy monitoring of two university-owned, 100-year-old apartment buildings. In the article, Valko discusses the goal of charting a path towards net-zero energy performance within market constraints, which meant finding low-cost technologies.

Read the article “An Architectural Twin Study” here, and learn more about Phil in his Chapter Member Profile.

Explore the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter online directory to learn about other Chapter members!

Visit the Green Building Experts page to learn more about members who have been recognized for their green building advocacy, promotion, and expertise.

USGBC-MO Gateway Seeking Climate Action Intern

USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter is currently seeking one full-time intern for fall 2013 to work with one municipality on the Greenhouse Gas Inventory Module of the Regional Environmental Internship Program (REIP) – Climate Action Internship.

This is a paid internship. The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory Module involves conducting a GHG inventory and estimating future GHG emission trends. It is primarily a technical internship. It involves studying energy use in the major sectors of the local government’s operations and the major sectors of the community as a whole. Using this data, the intern is able to construct an estimate of the amount of energy used, its cost, and the amount of GHG emitted. In addition, using estimates of future economic, population, and energy intensity trends, the intern is able to construct an estimate of future energy use, energy costs, and GHG emissions. Interns will work directly with municipalities to develop an inventory.

Intern applications are due electronically on Friday, August 9, 2013. For more information, download the job description or contact Emily Andrews at 314-577-0854.

REIP Climate Action Internship was internship was developed by the FOCUS St. Louis Environmental Sustainability Implementation Committee, which was tasked with implementing the Environmental Sustainability Roadmap: A Toolkit for Local Governments published by Focus St. Louis in 2009. For more information about the Environmental Sustainability Roadmap: A Toolkit for Local Governments, see the full report here.

Local Action: Richmond Heights Partners with Focus

By Jane Allen Jones

For the last five weeks, Teresa Robinson has been hard at work creating the first Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Inventory in RichmondHeights’ history.  She represents a first for Focus St. Louis, too – the first paid intern in the Focus Environmental Internship Program.  The goal of the internship program is to provide resources to local municipalities that have committed to completing a GHG emissions inventory for their community and using that information to draft a plan to reduce those emissions, a Climate Action Plan.

I sat down with intern Teresa, Assistant City Manager Bola Akande and City Public Relations Coordinator Irene Johnson to hear more about the process underway in the city.  Bola stated that sustainability seeds have been germinating in the community for a number of years.  In 2008, the City Council passed an ordinance creating  The Friends of the City of Richmond Heights, a non-profit citizens group committed to promoting sustainable practices and cultural enrichment in the community. With a strong partnership between that group and city leadership, many good things have happened.

The goals of the partnership have been to find ways to improve efficiency of the local government, improve quality of life for citizens and reduce the environmental impact of city operations by implementing sustainable practices.  In Bola’s view, it is all about being good stewards of the city’s tax dollars and resources.  With these goals in mind, Richmond Heights was one of the first communities to introduce single stream recycling (reducing land fill costs), have partnered with five other communities to buy recycled printer paper (saving procurement costs), and have partnered with 14 other communities in a grant-funded project that will allow them to install more energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems (saving operating expenses).

Completion of the GHG inventory will help pinpoint where they have the greatest opportunities to further reduce energy expenses while reducing emissions from the air.  The results of the GHG analysis will then allow them to draft a multi-year plan for attaining those savings.  Bola said that without the Focus Environmental Internship Program, this effort would not have been possible this year. Budgetary and staffing constraints would have prevented it. But with the internship program, Richmond Heights was able to proceed.

Over the next eight weeks, intern Teresa will continue her work with all of the Richmond Heights departments to complete the GHG inventory.  She stated that the process has gone very smoothly so far, thanks to a great communications effort headed by City Manager Amy Hamilton and the city’s public relations coordinator.  The communications support ensured that all department managers understand the importance of the work Teresa is undertaking.  Cooperation has been terrific as a result.  Following the completion of the GHG inventory, their sites are set on developing the Climate Action Plan by year end.  At that point, Richmond Heights will be on their way to continuing their work to be good stewards of the environment and their financial resources by implementing the Climate Action Plan, step by step.