Category: Dent Planet Defender Greening the Workplace News and Tips
Uploaded by: Stephen Dent
Green building is on the rise nationally as companies face the task of saving money and protecting the environment. The idea and innovation of incorporating energy efficiency and environmental responsibility in every stage of a building, from design concept to construction, is gaining popularity as companies are benefitting from both the cost efficiency and the positive PR of building Green.
Below are five of Stephen Dent’s favorite innovations in commercial green building. Four of the buildings have met the demanding criteria to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum-status rating for environmentally responsible construction by the U.S. Green Building Council. The last one listed below chose not to apply for certification, but is as impressive as the first four.
San Jose, California
Driven by the belief that corporations have a responsibility to their local community and the global environment, Adobe Systems Incorporated has consistently taken a strong, pro-active approach to resource conservation, waste reduction, environmental protection, and sustainability with its use of state-of-the-art technology. One example is the Almaden Tower, which is famous for its green design. The 17-story Almaden Tower was built in 2003 and is part of Adobe’s LEED platinum-certified complex, which also consists of the 18-story West Tower and the 16-story East Tower. All three towers serve as a role model for sustainable building and sustainable philosophies for the future – particularly for those skeptics who suggest that green building practices aren’t cost effective.
Since 2001, Adobe has implemented over 64 energy and energy-related conservation projects at a cost of $1.4 million with an annual cost savings of $1.2 million. These projects have helped Adobe reduce electricity by 35%, natural gas by 41%, water use by 22%, and landscape water use by 76%. Since early 2010, Adobe has also started installing 20 Windspire vertical wind turbines as part of a larger plan to obtain renewable power supply for all of their facilities. Adobe Systems is the first major corporation to be awarded the LEED-platinum certification for environmental sustainability, and they are clearly setting an example for other businesses. Adobe strongly believes that greening a building is good for the environment and good for business.
Banner Bank Building
The Banner Bank Building design team employed new technology and sustainable building methods to build one of the most efficient commercial buildings in the US. While the Banner Bank Building was designed taking the environment into consideration, the priority was a design that would provide owners and tenants with the most economical, functional, and comfortable workspace a modern building could offer.
The Banner Bank Building uses 50% less energy, 65% less potable water, and up to 80% less water for plumbing conveyance compared to an average building of the same size. In addition, the building itself is made from 42% recycled materials, has used over 90% of construction and demolition debris from landfills, and was built at the average cost of other commercial office buildings of the same size. In addition, its back-up generators run on bio-diesel made from used vegetable oil. Because of all this, the Banner Bank Building has been certified since 2006 with the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Core and Shell Platinum Rating, which is the highest LEED rating for commercial buildings.
Helios House Gas Station
Los Angeles, California
Built in 2007, the Helios House is an experimental gas station in Los Angeles, that tries to be more eco-friendly on the architecture side, in addition to helping educate the public on environmental issues. It is staffed by a team of attendants specially trained to answer questions about the Helios House Gas Station and its green features, and provide consumers with information and tips about green living. It was designed as a “station of the future” with special green features and was the first gas station in the United States to be LEED certified in 2007.
The station’s roof has 90 solar panels and is designed of triangles made from recycled stainless steel. The roof has cacti growing on it and is drought tolerant as it uses a rainwater collection system for irrigation. The bathroom stalls are bamboo paneled, and the facility has motion-sensitive lighting which reduces the energy consumption of the station by 16%. The Helios gas station does incorporate several largely unique environmentally friendly designs and is built entirely from recycled glass, steel and scrap metal.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Based in Little Rock, AR, Heifer’s headquarters uses 52% less energy than a traditional office building of the same size. This building was built on an abandoned railroad yard that was in desperate need of being torn down. Heifer removed tons of scrap metal and rundown buildings, and then reused them to create a commercial office building keeping environmental responsibility in mind in every step from design concept to construction.
Rainwater is collected to both cool the building and use in bathroom plumbing. The beautiful building makes use of many large windows for natural lighting, but the building also has light sensors, which adjust the light depending on whether it is sunny or overcast outside. Adjacent wetlands, which support native species, also complement the building’s design. In 2007, Heifer’s headquarters achieved the highest “Green Building” rating possible; The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certification.
Global Ecology Research Center
The high-performance 11,000 square foot Global Ecology Research Center boasts significant energy efficiency, water conservation. The design team developed a design that used recycled and sustainable materials on the research complex. Their priority was to construct an eco-friendly building, while also maximizing the comfort and health of its occupants.
A true innovator in functional design, the building uses a ‘night sky’ radiant cooling system. At night, water gets sprayed on the roof, and then cools off in the night air. It is then stored in an insulated tank until needed. The Labs are ventilated by a mechanical system that can supply 100% outdoor air. The research center cut carbon emissions by an impressive 72%, and embodied carbon in its building materials by 50% compared to a typical building of it’s size.
Unlike the other green commercial buildings, the institution chose not to pursue LEED certification for a couple reasons. The first was the cost which was estimated to be in the tens of thousands of dollars. They decided they would rather invest those funds in additional green features rather than using it for certification. The second reason was that they had a specific set of environmental priorities for the project that didn’t exactly align with those in LEED and they may not have gotten the certification anyway.
There are thousands of commercial buildings greening up, or are being built green to begin with because of the cost benefits and the positive PR that comes with it.