Environmentalists & Home Builders compromise to improve County Energy Building Codes.
Today 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, co-sponsored by Councilmembers Dunaway and Harder, has not come without controversy. Environmentalists and green builders criticized the original language of the bill developed under County Executive Stenger. They opposed the bill because it would have rolled back energy efficiency in the St. Louis County from existing building codes, costing the average home owner $152 per year in additional electricity bills. They raised additional concerns about the impacts on public health and extensive influence of special interests.
The new code passed today, however, is a compromise between the local Home Builders Association and energy efficiency advocates. The new code is 15% more energy efficient than what is currently in place and 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.
“Energy efficient homeowners are less likely to face foreclosure, their homes sustain less damage in natural disasters, and they enjoy significantly improved indoor air quality. Energy efficient buildings are also great for the planet. The climate crisis is at the forefront of most people’s minds. We are very glad to see leadership in St. Louis County taking action to benefit County residents and the planet,” said Gretchen Waddell Barwick, Assistant Chapter Director of the Sierra Club, Missouri Chapter.
Emily Andrews, Executive Director, USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter said, “With buildings representing 40% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, any opportunity to improve energy efficiency is a win for our future. We are excited to see St. Louis County taking proactive steps towards better buildings – buildings that will help homeowners and renters save money on energy bills while protecting our natural resources and improving public health. We look forward to municipalities and other counties following suit.”
“The county’s new energy code is win-win. It is the gift that keeps on giving – healthier homes, healthier kids, healthier pocketbook!” said James Trout, Building Performance Professional. “These changes help fix home’s indoor air quality, a problem that has been associated with asthma, cancer, even learning disabilities. St. Louis County is finally moving us in the right direction.”
The new code, based off the 2015 International Codes, is set to go into effect in Spring 2020.