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St. Louis Is Now Among Few Cities To Use Building Codes To Reduce Greenhouse Gases

The new St. Louis building codes go into effect in August and do not apply to current construction.
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Many St. Louis buildings will have to meet new energy standards to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. Building owners will be required to start meeting the standards by May 2025.

The Building Energy Performance Standards ordinance passed by the Board of Aldermen and signed by Mayor Lyda Krewson last week will set energy-usage requirements for commercial, institutional, municipal and multi-family buildings 50,000 square feet or larger.

“The more we can reduce our greenhouse gases emissions, even though we don’t see them, it’s going to help stem the tide of climate change with its very dangerous outcomes in the St. Louis area,” St. Louis Sustainability Director Catherine Werner said.

St. Louis is the fourth city in the U.S. to pass a building energy performance standard to require buildings meet standards for energy efficiency. The city will set specific energy standards for each building.

Werner said large buildings in St. Louis emit large amounts of greenhouse gases, which makes up about 80% of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions. By establishing new energy standards, city officials expect to see a reduction in the city’s carbon emission. Establishing standards will ultimately improve the standard of living for St. Louisans, the environment and health, she said.

“The more we can do that, the better it’s going to be for us and especially for our future generations — and I don’t mean in many many years; I mean our current children,” Werner said. “If we don’t make significant progress in this next decade, our future is really going to be compromised.” 

The ordinance also establishes a committee to review energy usage for buildings. Standards will be reviewed and updated every four years. Standards could be different depending on the type of building.

“Obviously you have things like your residential buildings that use a certain amount of energy, and then you’ve got office buildings and then you’ve got industrial buildings,” St. Louis Building Commissioner Frank Oswald said. “All of these various uses, and that’s the key to this thing, is to basically have reasonable, achievable goals.”

Oswald and Werner said new energy standards could also lead to cost-saving measures for building owners that could cut utility and operating costs.

The ordinance also creates an office in the city’s building division to assist building owners in reaching compliance standards. 

Follow Chad on Twitter:@iamcdavis

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Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.