Energy Efficiency | St. Louis Public Radio

Energy Efficiency

The new St. Louis building codes go into effect in August and do not apply to current construction.
Wikimedia Commons

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Friday voted unanimously to approve several building codes for the city. The approved codes will establish standards for new homes.

The codes require St. Louis to adopt a number of national and international standards for energy use. These include new fuel and gas, electrical, and fire safety standards.

Among the projects available for loans through GreenHELP is installing solar energy panels.
Missouri Solar Energy Industry Association

St. Louis is giving residents an incentive to make energy efficient home improvements: A new, low-interest loan program called GreenHELP.

The program aims to help homeowners make their houses more eco-friendly, which will also provide savings on utility bills. The loans are offered through the office of city of St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green.

Ameren's Callaway nuclear power plant produces about 19 percent of the electricity the company generates in Missouri. It is the only nuclear energy facility in the state.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Ameren Missouri has proposed expanding its energy-efficiency programs to ease the company’s impact on the environment.

In a proposal to the Missouri Public Service Commission on Tuesday, the utility sought approval to invest $550 million in 26 programs that would help customers save energy.

The programs would help people recycle old, inefficient appliances; educate those in low-income communities on how to lower energy use; and promote smart thermostats to reduce electricity costs during the high energy consumption that happens in the summer.

Mayor Francis Slay signs the benchmarking ordinance in Feb. 2017 that will require buildings that are at least 50,000 square feet to track and share their energy use.
Photo provided by Office of Mayor Francis Slay

A new ordinance requires owners of St. Louis buildings of at least 50,000 square feet to track their energy use. The practice, called benchmarking, is expected to save local residents and businesses nearly $8 million annually in energy costs by 2025.

It could also address the city's contribution to climate change, removing greenhouse gas pollution that's equal to what 15,000 cars would emit. 

"Seventy seven percent of our [carbon] emissions are coming from buildings," said Catherine Werner, the city's sustainability director. "So why not target those buildings to reduce those emissions?"

The St. Louis County Building Commission members (Jeff Aboussie, Barry Glantz and John Finder, right) listen to Sierra Club supporters on August 2015. The model house is covered with the names of 529 area residents who want stricter energy efficiency stan
Veronique LaCapra

The St. Louis County Building Commission unanimously approved a set of requirements for constructing homes.

But builders, environmental activists, policy experts and residents disagree on whether the new standards best serve the public interest. 

An energy efficient light bulb.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Nearly 80 percent of St. Louis' greenhouse gas emissions comes from buildings, according to 2015 data from the city's sustainability office. A new partnership with a national energy efficiency initiative could help St. Louis address the impacts its buildings have on the environment. 

The city recently joined the City Energy Project, a joint initiative by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Institute for Market Transformation, which provides funding and resources to cities to create programs that improve energy efficiency in buildings. St. Louis expects to receive over $500,000 in assistance from the project. 

"In tackling our greenhouse gas emissions from existing buildings, a program that focuses on existing buildings is going to help us achieve some of our climate protection goals and objectives," said Catherine Werner, the city's sustainability director.

A worker installs fiberglass insulation.
Dennis Schroeder, National Renewable Energy Lab

The federal Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution could provide tremendous financial savings for property owners in Missouri, according to research from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

While the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan does not explicitly require buildings to adopt certain energy efficient standards, it requires states to develop a plan to cut carbon emissions. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy ranks the Show Me State is 44th in the nation for energy efficiency.

LED fixture beside a basic light bulb that has been used in streetlights for decades.s
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

Ameren Missouri says many of its customers could soon be noticing lower bills. The electric utility is upgrading streetlights throughout its system with LED technology.

The St. Louis County Building Commission members (Jeff Aboussie, Barry Glantz and John Finder, right) listen to Sierra Club supporters on August 2015. The model house is covered with the names of 529 area residents who want stricter energy efficiency stan
Veronique LaCapra

The Missouri Sierra Club is raising the alarm that new residential building codes under review by St. Louis County would reduce home energy efficiency below existing standards.

But the Home Builders Association of St. Louis and Eastern Missouri (HBA) believes the changes are needed.

Apartments in the Renaissance Place neighborhood in North St. Louis, which includes subsidized and market-rate housing.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s no shortage of incentive programs to install energy-efficient appliances and fixtures in Missouri, but a new report shows that affordable, multi-family housing units are often left out of the mix.

According to the paper from the National Resources Defense Council, only 30 percent of households in those buildings within Ameren Missouri and Ameren Illinois' service areas are participating in energy efficiency programs. Energy costs can disproportionately impact low-income families, who spend nearly 14 percent of their annual income on utilities, according to the Missouri Department of Energy.

utility wires, Ameren
(Flickr, sciondriver)

Ameren Missouri officials say the utility will invest $135 million in a three-year energy efficiency plan to begin in 2016.  

Ameren filed the plan with the Missouri Public Service Commission Monday. The utility said it's expected to provide more than $260 million in customer benefits over 20 years.

Ameren’s director of energy efficiency, Dan Laurent, said the plan also is expected to save about 426,000 megawatt hours.

St. Louis Experts Advise On The Big Light Bulb Switch

Jan 8, 2014
(via Flickr / National Museum of American History)

Up until now, a 2007 federal law tightening energy efficiency standards in the country has stayed mostly under the radar. But on New Year’s Day it became illegal to manufacture or import the most popular light bulbs in the country — the 40 and 60 watt incandescent light bulbs perfected more than a century ago by Thomas Edison.

When stores sell out of their current stock of incandescent light bulbs, consumers will be forced to make the switch to LED, CFL or halogen.  A previous phase in the law already put a halt to the manufacture or importation of the 75 and 100 watt models.

Missouri's first passive house is in Dogtown
Gary Steps | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: You would never suspect anything unusual when entering the home at 1455 Gregg Ave.

No visitor would guess that a 1,500-watt hairdryer could heat the entire home on the coldest night of the year, that the windows are recessed six inches into a foam-filled wall, or that the house is generating more energy than it will use.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Washington University plans to spend $30 million on sustainability efforts over the next five years, a push that comes as the institution gears up to host a big meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.

The university announced on Wednesday afternoon that it plans to spend $30 million over the next five or six years on energy conservation projects.

(Courtesy of the St. Louis Cardinals)

The St. Louis Cardinals are highlighted in a new report that features environmental initiatives by the professional sports industry.

The report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council describes efforts by sports leagues, teams, and venues to save energy and water, and reduce waste.

(via Flickr/spacepleb)

Missouri utility regulators have given approval for what Ameren Missouri calls the most aggressive energy efficiency plan ever in the state.

Under the plan approved Wednesday by the Missouri Public Service Commission, Ameren will invest $147 million over three years in several programs that seek to reduce electricity use by 800 million megawatt-hours.

The plan was part of a negotiated settlement among Ameren, PSC staff, consumer advocates and environmental groups.

(Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio)

The Public Service Commission heard details Monday on Ameren Missouri’s proposed efficiency plan.

The proposal is designed to promote energy efficiency while still allowing the St. Louis-based utility to earn a profit.  It has an estimated price tag of $145 million and it would be paid by the utility’s customers, whose residential bills on average would be about $3 a month higher.  But Ameren Missouri’s Warren Wood says if approved, customers would save money in the long run.

(Joe Angeles/WUSTL)

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill was in St. Louis Monday as part of her state-wide energy tour.

The Democratic senator participated in a roundtable discussion at Washington University about the nation's energy future. At the table were some of Missouri's energy industry leaders, along with university administrators and researchers.

McCaskill says their feedback reinforced for her the need to keep all energy options on the table.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 27, 2011 - As the weather turns cold, we know Missouri households will see their monthly heating bills rise. No big surprise, right? Well, not so fast.

This time, the bad news first: The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy just named Missouri the 44th-worst state in energy efficiency. That means Missourians are paying hundreds of dollars a year more for utility bills.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 11, 2011 - WASHINGTON - Staffers and students at Bayless High School will get an opportunity next week to teach the White House a thing or two about energy efficiency.

Nancy Sutley, the principal environmental adviser to President Barack Obama, is scheduled to visit Bayless on Monday to learn how the south St. Louis County school has used energy-efficient technology to lower its heating and cooling bills.

Pages