By David Charles, CSI-EP, Resource Center Manager for AIA St. Louis & Education Committee Chair for Missouri Gateway Green Building Council
Missouri is on a steady roll with building #MoGreenBuildings! New construction to retrofit, multi-family to commercial, whatever you fancy, most likely there’s a project for you! Most impressive are some of our state’s cutting-edge projects that have been honored with USGBC’s most coveted certifications. Born and raised in Saint Louis, later moving to the opposite side of the state near Kansas City for college, and since returning to Saint Louis, I’ve been fortunate to witness Missouri’s growth in infrastructure and design. Not only should building design be refreshing, it should also be inspiring to its communities!
Earlier this month (March 2023), Kansas City completed its brand-new (and sorely needed) new Airport Terminal (KCI). Its spaciousness and attractive looks make it a sexy layover for flying – Amen, because it sure wasn’t paradise when I stopped over ten years ago! The KCI terminal is now the first Midwest airport project to obtain LEED Gold certification. Specifically, the airport achieved its LEED status under the LEED v4 for Building Design and Construction rating system. Local Kansas City policies were adopted way before now to include green building policies – new city-owned facilities have had to achieve at least LEED Sliver certified since 2004, which was raised to LEED Gold in 2011. When viewing the entire scope of how KC has evolved in the twenty-first century (new public transportation, downtown trolley system), green building was a natural step to being competitive amongst other like-minded Midwest cities.
St. Louis can also join Kansas City as one with LEED Gold certified buildings! Early 2019 saw the newly renovated Gateway Arch Visitor Center and Museum receive LEED Gold with the help of their three-acre green roof. Later that year, the Missouri Historical Society earned both LEED Gold certification and TRUE Zero Waste certification for Soldiers’ Memorial Museum in Downtown St. Louis (pictured above). Quoted by Angela Moore, then Facilities & Sustainability Coordinator for Missouri History Museum (and a former Missouri Gateway Green Building Council board member), “The TRUE program has been invaluable to the Missouri Historical Society and has provided a path for other museums to explore zero-waste practices in the future.” As a former employee with MHS and for someone I consider a dear friend, I couldn’t be prouder of Angela’s achievements!
Fast forward to current day, from Kansas City to St. Louis (and in between), many Missourians advocate for green building practices. For example, our newly rebranded Missouri Gateway Green Building Council is a huge proponent for garnering interest from people in Mid-Missouri (Columbia and Jefferson City) and Ozark Branches (Springfield) – beyond our St. Louis city limits! We’ve also been speaking up in opposition of proposed legislation like HB 580, which threatens to lower standards for building energy efficient new homes. When we can reference examples of projects that WORK, more builders and developers may become more apt to try the same. Reaching skeptics is one thing, but showing visible examples of successful green building practices makes for half the argument! Speaking of which, stay tuned for our green building tour in June, which will feature Missouri Foundation for Health’s office (seeking LEED Certification)!