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Climate Solutions: STL City and County Take Action to Reduce Emissions

Now more than ever, the climate crisis is on the minds of people all around the world. Due to the urgent need to implement effective solutions to this social and environmental crisis, we will be regularly featuring stories of climate solutions adopted at the university and at the local, state, and national levels to inspire and accelerate positive change.

St. Louis City Passes Solar-Ready Ordinance

On December 23, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson launched St. Louis to the forefront of climate leadership by signing an ordinance that requires all newly constructed buildings to be “solar ready” in compliance with the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code. St. Louis is only the second city in the country – and the first in the Midwest – to have passed a solar ready ordinance covering both residential and commercial construction.

From now on, all new commercial and residential construction of 5 stories or less in the City of St. Louis will be required to have a roof that is sturdy enough to receive solar arrays, minimizes obstructions such as pipes and vents, and includes a conduit to an electrical service panel with dedicated space labeled “For Future Solar Electric.” A few exceptions are included for buildings with shaded roofs, vegetated roofs, or other limitations.

By optimizing for the installation of rooftop solar at the time of construction rather than afterwards, the bill will “empower the community at-large to reduce the cost of adding solar power to their building if they decide to do so in the future. Additionally, this will also make buildings subject to this law highly desirable in the future, as solar power installation costs continue to fall year over year,” according to the bill summary.

With this ordinance, the City of St. Louis has underscored its willingness to take ambitious climate action. “As Mayor, I want people to know that this administration is taking the climate crisis seriously and meeting its challenges head-on, especially at the local level,” Krewson said in a statement. “That includes signing this historic solar readiness bill, which reflects that commitment.”

According to NRDC, which has been supporting St. Louis as a 2018 winner of the American Cities Climate Challenge, “if 10% of single-family and commercial buildings that are impacted by the ordinance install solar panels every year starting in 2022, by 2030 the city may avoid emitting approximately 23,000 MT of CO2”. This would be the equivalent to taking 4,900 passenger vehicles off the road or conserving enough emissions to power 2,664 homes’ electricity needs for one year!

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St. Louis County Updates Building Code

[Source: USGBC Missouri Gateway January Newsletter]

On December 17, the St. Louis County Council voted unanimously to pass an updated building code for new residential and commercial buildings in St. Louis County. The bill was co-sponsored by Council members Kelli Dunaway and Mark Harder and included a lot of compromise between the County, the local Home Builders Association, and energy efficiency advocates. The Sierra Club and the Missouri Gateway Chapter of the US Green Buildings Council were part of the coalition advocating for more energy efficiency measures in the code.

The new code is 15% more energy efficient than what is currently in place. It will save the average new homeowner $250 per year in utility bills through energy efficiency improvements like: increased wall and ceiling insulation, better windows, and new testing requirements to ensure homes perform properly.

The new code, which is based on the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), will go into effect in Spring 2020.