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With climate action stalled at the federal level in the United States, local and state governments across the country are filling the leadership void. And the emerging leaders aren’t just the big cities or blue-leaning states on the East and West Coasts.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson recently signed a law establishing a mandatory Building Energy Performance Standard in the city, which is the second-largest in Missouri. The new standard is the first building performance standard in the Midwest and just the fourth of its kind nationwide, following the adoption of similar standards in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Washington state.

Buildings are responsible for nearly 80 percent of St. Louis’ greenhouse gas emissions. The city will not achieve its goal of a 100 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 without aggressive action to decarbonize buildings.

The new standard applies to municipal, commercial, institutional, and multifamily residential buildings 50,000 square feet and larger, which covers roughly 1,000 buildings in the city. The performance metric codified in the standard is energy use intensity — a site's energy use divided by its gross floor area — as calculated by Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager online tool.

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