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District Building Design Standards

It’s important to remember that Cortex does not own or control most of the properties within the District. As such, our focus has been on creating a set of design standards focused on helping both building owners/landlords and tenants/occupants to improve their spaces and gradually improve existing building infrastructure stock over time. As new buildings are added within the District, these standards will put us on a successful pathway toward our sustainability targets and goals.

Ideal Future State

Every building in Cortex (new and existing) is a green building.

Why Important

Buildings are responsible for half of all carbon emissions and must target net zero energy and low embodied carbon. In addition, construction waste is responsible for more than half of all landfill disposal. When they are demolished, all of those materials (and their related carbon emissions) are lost. Additional efforts should be made on discouraging demolition of buildings and encouraging material reuse.

Objectives / Targets

  • All new buildings must be LEED Gold or higher under the LEED BD+C (v4 or v4.1) Rating System.
  • All existing buildings should be LEED Gold or higher under LEED O+M or LEED CI (v4 or v4.1).
  • Encourage sourcing the fixtures, furnishings, and millwork from our list of local XBE suppliers.
  • All design and construction teams must meet or exceed SLDC/SLATE workforce participation and MBE/WBE goals.
  • All new buildings and major renovations should be designed to a target pEUI (based on use).
  • All new major buildings (>50,000 square feet) should target net zero by 2030 (with incentives).


  • US Green Building Council – LEED Rating Systems (various)
  • ASHRAE 189.1 – Standard for the Design of High-Performance, Green Buildings


EnergyStar Portfolio Manager for pEUI.

Future Targets

Net Zero Certification (New Buildings Institute or Living Future Institute) starting in 2030.

Immediate Steps

  • Develop list of vetted XBE supplies for fixtures, furnishings, and millwork
  • Coordinate with the Anchor Action Network for suppliers

Short-Term Steps

  • Compile list of financial incentives with Ameren partnership for net zero energy (<18 months)
  • Benchmark all buildings within Cortex (Building Energy Exchange STL partnership) (<18 months)

Long-Term Steps

Develop process for listing building in database (EnergyStar, GBIG, ArcSkuro, et al.) (>18 months).


  • Cortex only controls a small number of buildings in the district but does have City building permit approval authority for all construction within the Cortex boundary. The existing buildings will likely only be retrofit when undergoing a larger renovation.
  • By getting the entire District certified under LEED for Neighborhood Development, Living Community Challenge, or EcoDistricts Certified, we would achieve an economy of scale for the occupants to more easily achieve their goals.