Thursday, February 28, 2013

Action Agenda for City of St. Louis Sustainability Plan Announced

City of St. Louis announces action agenda. Here is a link to the website. An excerpt can be seen below:

Mayor Announces Action Agenda for City's First Sustainability Plan           Published: 02-28-2013

The Mayor's Action Agenda: Sustainability Plan Items for City Implementation By 2018
The City’s Sustainability Plan is a 260-page library of ideas developed through two years of public engagement to improve economic, social and environmental conditions by enhancing the City’s natural and built environment.
Commissioned by Mayor Francis Slay, the plan has three purposes: first, to make our City cleaner, safer, healthier, with less waste of energy and natural resources; second, to attract knowledge workers and others who want more-sustainable spaces and neighborhoods; and third, to make life better and easier for all of the City’s citizens.
“Our City is already a vibrant, connected and diverse place of opportunity and innovation. While we are proud of our accomplishments, this Sustainability Plan builds on the many existing assets found in the City and provides a comprehensive blueprint for achieving even greater livability and quality of life,” Mayor Slay said.
This Sustainability Plan will guide City government for decades to come. The plan is extensive. It is a collection of broad goals, specific objectives and direct strategies that have been identified by the people ofSt. Louisas presenting the best opportunity to advance sustainability in the City.
“By doing so, we will make our community and environment healthier and safer for all living things – people, plants and animals. We look forward to working with the City to use our expertise to support all efforts in environmental conservation in St. Louis and the revitalization of the City’s biodiversity and natural resources,” Dr. Peter Wyse Jackson, Missouri Botanical Garden President, said.
The Sustainability Plan was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy with an ARRA Stimulus grant, allowing the City to conduct extensive community outreach before developing the plan.
"It is so exciting to see City staff, stakeholders, and others in our community come together in support of making St. Louis a model of urban sustainability," Catherine Werner, the City's Sustainability Director, said.  "I'm really looking forward to our working together to turn these ideas into reality."
With the Sustainability Plan, the City has identified a path toward being a world-class sustainable city. Since it is not possible to pursue all of the elements of the Sustainability Plan at once, the Mayor’s Sustainability Action Agenda outlines the City’s priority items for implementation in the next five years.
“We want to improve our City in ways that people can feel, touch, understand and measure,” Mayor Slay said. “The Mayor’s Sustainability Action Agenda can be viewed as my firm commitment to advancing sustainability in the City. I will be directing City resources in these priority areas beginning in the upcoming fiscal year.”

The Mayor's Action Agenda:
Sustainability Plan Items for City Implementation By 2018
Urban Character, Vitality & Ecology
  1. Create a sustainability resource toolkit for neighborhoods
  2. Make LRA land available at no cost for smart, productive, creative re-use of the land
  3. Provide easy access to greenspace, trails or parks within a half mile or 10 minute walk
  4. Increase number of trees planted by 16,000, or 15%
Arts, Culture & Innovation
  1. Promote sustainability practices at all public arts and cultural events  
  2. Build Phase II of CORTEX bioscience and technology research hub 
  3. Advance use of public transit, trolleys and streetcars to connect arts, culture and innovation hubs
Empowerment, Diversity & Equity
  1. Employ 500 youth in annual summer job program
  2. Form a Mayor’s Community Council for Sustainability Implementation
  3. Implement Board Bill 297 pertaining to workforce inclusion
  4. Maintain our premier Municipal Equality Index rating for LGBTQ
Health, Well-Being & Safety
  1. Decrease obesity by 5% by expanding our Small Changes for Health, Let's MoveSTLand Good 4 U! Programs
  2. Reduce crime by 25%
  3. End chronic homelessness
Infrastructure, Facilities & Transportation
  1. Advocate for transportation plans and funding that allow more people to be less car dependent
  2. Support Citywide greenhouse gas emission reductions of 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050
  3. Achieve a 6% reduction in fuel use in City fleet and expand use of alternative fuels to 85% of Airport’s fleet
  4. Increase number of dedicated bicycle lanes by 150% and shared road facilities by 35%
  5. Increase bike racks by 150%
  6. Have single stream recycling facilities for 100% of City government buildings and double residential recycling to 20% participation
  7. Reduce City government use of water by 10%
  8. Use green custodial cleaning supplies in 100% of City government facilities
Education, Training & Leadership
  1. Create an Office of Sustainability in which the City’s Sustainability Director works with a City Green Team to implement and track the City’s sustainability initiatives 
  2. Open 20 additional quality public charter schools
  1. Double the current eco-literacy rate by launching a program to foster an enhanced connection between people and urban natural resources
Prosperity, Opportunity & Employment
  1. Require a sustainability impact statement for allnew Citydevelopment
  2. Create at least 8,500 new jobs atBallparkVillage, CORTEX, Carondelet Coke,St. Louis Army Ammunition Plant, and North Riverfront
  3. Remediate and prepare at least 40 vacant properties for redevelopment
  4. Create an urban forestry employment training program for high school students
The City encourages its citizens to get more involved. So far, Mayor Slay has held two Mayor’s Sustainability Summits where both technical stakeholders and members of the community were encouraged to participate. The Mayor’s SustainabilitySummitI :: imagine was held in 2011. TheMayor’s Sustainability SummitII :: innovate was held in 2012. In the fall of 2013, the City will hold the Mayor’s Sustainability SummitIII:: implement.
For more information, please contact Catherine Werner, the City’s Sustainability Director, and check the City’s Sustainability website or subscribe to the sustainability e-blasts to be kept apprised of details.

Belleville and the Idea of Transformation/Preservation

I do not know this building, but as I was driving through Belleville on business this morning I was struck by the contrast between the front and the side of the structure. Many of us love mid-century modern architecture and many of us love preservation and restoration of original building details. Sometimes they cross in the same place and the same time. Below are a few images from this morning - keep in mind I have no idea of this building's fate, but I do find it an interesting embodiment of a place 'where worlds collide."

Here is the Mid-Century front and below is the side.

What is the building's 'period of significance?' In other words, if it is a historic structure, what did it look like when it made history, as it were? It seems obvious that the original construction pre-dates the mid-twentieth century. There is, quite often, a complexity, along with a few contradictions in the analysis of existing structures with respect to preservation.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Air Sealing at Home: Keep Your $ in the House!

Check out this post from the Alliance to Save Energy. They call it it 'heat bleed.' I call it a leaky house. It is throwing money away. It is a comfort issue and it can be a health issue as well. Remember: air sealing before insulation = maximizing savings and comfort.

Right Under Your Roof: Stop the Heat Bleed is the name of the article and it has links to a mini home assessment tool called Plug. Consider using the tool and scheduling an audit and taking care of some these issues. For those in the county is a source for low interest energy efficiency loans and Ameren and Laclede have rebate and incentive programs as well.

This is drilling down into the details at the heart of the art of construction.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Habitat for Humanity Global House Tour

Check out this slide show featuring Habitat for Humanity homes from around the world. A block of LEED Platinum homes, built in St. Louis is among those featured. Amazing work by all. Please check out Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis as well and consider a donation or a volunteer position.

Preview from Vietnam:

Monday, February 25, 2013

Soulard Art Market/ Urban Architecture Opening on March 8th

I'll have a couple of pieces in a juried exhibit called: Urban Architecture II. Here are the details from the S.A.M. web site call for submissions:

Urban Architecture II 

“Urban Architecture II” featuring special guest curator and judge, international photographer Michael Eastman (

The Soulard Art Market (SAM) and Contemporary Gallery is calling for submissions to “Urban Architecture II” a juried exhibition of the celebration of architecture, young and old, abandoned or inhabited, monument or tragedy. “Urban Architecture II” runs from March 8 – April 5, 2013, and each artist may submit up to three original works. Artwork displayed in prior years may not be submitted. Michael Eastman will also be attending our opening reception as guest speaker and presenter.

Exhibition Theme
“Urban Architecture II” features any medium and style featuring your concept of urban architecture, young and old, abandoned or inhabited, monument or tragedy.
Here is a little info about the gallery, also from their site:
The Soulard Art Market & Contemporary Gallery (S.A.M.) features monthly exhibitions in our main gallery that showcase a rotating selection of the areas most talented artists. Exhibitions and events are free and open to the public, (unless otherwise noted) and most artwork is offered for sale.
Recently voted as one of the area’s Top 5 local galleries, S.A.M. is operated by a core group of resident artists who each maintain a personal display space as well as coordinating the monthly main gallery exhibitions. S.A.M. is home to some of the areas most respected artists working in a variety of media including: drawing, painting, digital and traditional photography, mixed media, sculpture and jewelry. Located in the historic Soulard neighborhood, Soulard Art Market is a fantastic arts destination.

MoDOT and the Tower Grove Interchange

The Missouri Department of Transportation has a robust website with updates for its work around the region. Here is a link to the St. Louis area:
and here is a link to the Tower Grove Interchange which will feature a roundabout:
Here are some images of the Tower Grove Interchange plans that I found on the MoDOT web site:

The view above in of the entire project and the one below is a zoom of the roundabout.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Waterless Tower

I went out early this morning to catch the low light upon the waterless tower. It is one of my favorite landmarks.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Making the Invisible, Visible

What happens to air quality when you put a lid on an urban area? My son and his wife live in the Wasatch Range area of Logan, Utah which is 90 minutes north of Salt Lake City and their community is effected by the phenomena described in this piece in the New York Times.

Here is a quote from the article:

The air pollution has gotten so bad at times that it has prompted warnings from local doctors, spawned protests at the State Capitol and led to a variety of legislative proposals in the hopes of confronting the problem before it gets worse.
It is not that the region necessarily emits more pollution than other large metropolitan areas, or that the problem is especially new, Mr. Bird said. What makes the situation here different is the confluence of topographic and meteorological factors.
When heavy winter storms sweep through the area, they leave snow on the Salt Lake Valley floor. But intermittent warm fronts trap the cold air, creating the effect of a lid on a soup bowl and keeping dirty air from car emissions and other pollutants from escaping.

Scott G Winterton/Deseret News
I have a brother and sister-in-law in Park City who, in a matter of speaking, live 'above it all.' I suppose it becomes like a man- made Smokey Mountains from their point of view.

This situation makes the invisible, visible. We would not last long in an urban bubble. We depend on the rest of the planet to filter and dilute the pollution we create. Most of the time this 'reality' is not visible, but here it is. Another call to mindfulness and action to minimize our impact on the environment.

Friday, February 22, 2013

One More Shout Out for the Home Show

St. Louis Home Show details available here. Among other things one can see the Energy Demonstration Wall pictured below:

Go. Live & learn - for yourself, your family, your real estate and the planet we share.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sustainable Land Lab Finalists Announced

We made the finals! 8 teams remain out of 50 in a competition for 4 winners in the inaugural St. Louis Sustainable Land Lab Competition. Here is a link to the proposals of the finalists. I posted earlier about my team's submittal.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Energy Issues at Home - What a Blower Door Test Can Do for You

Here is some basic info on what is accomplished with a blower door test on your home:

  • Measure the building envelope's air-tightness
  • Insure your home is properly ventilated
  • Find the air leaks and seal them
    • in and around ducts and wiring
    • around windows and doors
    • around plumbing and piping
    • rim joist and framing
  • Compare pressure differential in different parts of the house
    • garage and house
    • attic and house
    • crawl space and basement
    • porch roof and house
I use this tool, among others in some of the work I now do as an energy efficiency programs manager. Using the hard evidence gained from these tests you can increase your comfort and lower your bills. But don't take my word for it. 
Check out these posts from the venerable

CD Release On March 1, 2013 at Plush is hosting the CD Release Party & Show by Les Gruff and the Billy Goat on Friday, March 1, 2013. Doors open at 8, music starts at 9.

Here is a link to the act's feature on KDHX and here is the cd cover for the upcoming release:

I have an interest in this project for many reasons, least of which is that I provided the photography for the CD packaging, greatest of which goes back almost 50 years.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why is the cyclist in the traffic lane?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Food and Sustainability

Check out to understand the relationship between the food we eat and the sustainability we crave.

Here is part of the equation:

This website has a lot of great info, reporting and news from a variety of sources. It is a call to mindfulness about a subject we, all too often, take for granted.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The St. Louis Home Show

The Builders Home & Garden Show runs from February 21-24, 2013. Go on down and check out the Green Pavilion as well as all the other booths. Remember to ask this important question before you buy anything: Where is it going when I don't want it anymore? for more info, maps, etc.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Habitat for Humanity in Dogtown

Dateline Dogtown: A few weeks ago I wrote about the first home in our area seeking Passive House Certification. It is on the eastern edge of the neighborhood.

Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis is doing a green rehab on the southern end of the neighborhood. Here are some pix from the project which is very much a work in progress:

It is what is often referred to as a 'shotgun' because if front and back door are open simultaneously one could see straight through. This home, however, has had foundation and masonry restoration work done as well as an addition which adds 2 bedrooms to the space.

A deck, attached to the addition with walkout basement is starting to take shape. As seen below, original details will be restored and remain.

out with the old...
new, efficient water distribution system
mastik - sealed ductwork improves efficiency

When this project is complete the new homeowner will have a tidy, compact and super energy efficient home. Details like a white roof, energy star windows, high efficiency hvac systems and more will keep the operating costs of this home affordable and its occupants comfortable.

Congrats to Habitat and Dogtown for having the vision to see this opportunity to provide a hard working family with a chance to buy a decent and affordable home!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

USGBC Event Scholarships

The Missouri Gateway Chapter of the United States Green Building Council offers some event and training scholarships. Below is some copy from their website. Here is a link to the forms. Learn and grow!


The purpose of the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter scholarship program is to provide green building & sustainability education and training to emerging and young professionals who may not normally have access or afford it.

Applications for 2013 Scholarships are due Friday, March 15 by 5 PM.

Scholarships help people from our territory attend:

•Regional Sustainability Conferences such as Greening the Heartland

•Local professional development and continuing education

•LEED Exam Preparation Courses offered by the Chapter

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Land Lab Exhibition Open in Old North

Our team's 2nd round submission went in on time and is part of a month long exhibit at Old North hq right by Crown Candy. Head up there for a malt & a BLT and check it out.  Here is a little more info and a link:

February 1 – 28 Public Exhibition:  A selection of first round ideas and all second round submissions available for public viewing at the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group gallery

The competition website can be found here: Land Lab Competition

Here are some images from our work/submittals. We've based our dialogue with the neighborhood on historic information provided by Sanborn Maps of the area and we have specific, measurable goals for our experiment for  in situ bioremediation using sunflowers and winter wheat. Stay tuned for more as the project/process unfolds to a conclusion in April to be followed soon after by implementation.

Our Round 1 Image
Sanborn Map showing original buildings
survey of grades for retaining wall planning
our 2nd round submittal - on display now