St. Louis passes first building performance standard in the Midwest
On April 20, 2020, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen — the legislative body of the city of St. Louis, Mo. — voted unanimously to adopt the Midwest’s first Building Energy Performance Standard (BEPS) legislation; the fourth such in the nation. The ordinance is the biggest step the city has taken to date on its commitment to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 100 percent by 2050.
The purpose of the BEPS bill is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, drive energy efficiency improvements in buildings, and boost economic growth and job creation within the city of St Louis. This bill builds upon the Energy Awareness Ordinance passed in 2017, which requires buildings that are 50,000 square feet and above to report energy and water data annually to the city. The BEPS aligns with the city’s climate goals and its Pathways to 100% Clean Energy report, which recommends a BEPS. Pursuing this policy also aligns with the city’s goals in making significant carbon reductions and providing leadership to other cities throughout the American Cities Climate Challenge.
The St. Louis BEPS bill will require large commercial, multi-family, institutional and municipal buildings (50,000 square feet and above) to reduce energy use in order to meet an energy performance standard by May 2025, which will be reviewed and updated every four years. Performance standards will be set by the Building Energy Improvement Board and measured in the amount of energy used per square foot at the building (site energy use intensity) and based on building type. Building owners will be required to comply with standards using a free, online ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool. This bill will include the creation of a new Office of Building Performance to oversee the implementation, compliance and enforcement of the existing Building Energy Awareness ordinance, BEPS and any future ordinances related to building energy improvement and performance.
The BEPS creates a Building Energy Improvement Board with representation from the building industry, utilities and building owners. The board’s role is three-fold: to oversee a rulemaking process that sets and updates performance standards; to advise; to oversee implementation of the ordinance; and to administer a process for creating alternative compliance methods for buildings unable to meet the required standards. Passage of this bill will have a positive impact on both economic growth and environmental impact. The Building Division — working with the board, local utilities and other partners — will provide as many resources as possible to assist building owners with compliance, including educational opportunities, continued one-on-one assistance with benchmarking, and financial and other resources.
St. Louis Building Commissioner Frank Oswald recently addressed the adoption of a Building Energy Performance Standard in St. Louis to building code officials.
The city of St. Louis unanimously passed legislation this past spring that requires all buildings 50,000 square feet and larger to meet targets for energy consumption. A community board of people from different backgrounds and expertise will set energy usage goals and also provide a mechanism for building owners to request alternative methods and solutions to reach said goals. This ground-breaking legislation was passed by the Board of Alderman, signed by Mayor Lyda Krewson and welcomed by the St. Louis community as a means to safeguard our community’s public health and our resources that are affected by development.
As the Building Commissioner of St. Louis I could not be any prouder of our community willingness to invest in the general welfare of our citizens. This recognition that our built environment and its effects can be done in methods that are safe reminds me of the purpose of our various building codes. The code community tirelessly strives to update research of all the codes because our public demands a safe place to live, work, and play. We, the code community, are grateful to the Missouri Association of Building Officials and the International Code Council for their leadership in developing an International Group of Codes that truly makes our citizens’ lives better and safer throughout much of the world. I believe someday soon the International Codes will include a model code for communities to adopt that will allow them to establish a Building Energy Performance Standard.
As a public official, I believe we all have an obligation to lead our communities by bringing forth policies that are beneficial to all. Building Energy Performance Standards create more jobs, save building owners money, and make our communities a healthier place and also allows all of us to be better stewards of mother earth. I strongly urge all of our leaders in the code enforcement community to seriously consider the adoption of a Building Energy Performance policy.
City of St. Louis Department of Public Safety
The Building Energy Performance Standard legislation demonstrates St. Louis’ dedication toward for cleaner, greener cities and also shows that cities in all areas of the country can take advantage of building performance standards as a powerful tool to reduce emissions and convene a range of stakeholders around common long-term goals for building and energy resiliency.