INSIGHTFUL SOLUTIONS

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Find Inspiration for Your Next Green Building Project

Posted by Steve DeBusk on Feb 17, 2015

When it comes to implementing new green building initiatives, it can be overwhelming to decide which sustainability projects to tackle. But there’s no need to reinvent the wheel if you’re having problems coming up with your next green idea. Make it a team effort by asking coworkers, tenants, and occupants for their thoughts – and also take time to learn what other organizations have done to save energy and reduce their environmental footprints.

To reduce energy and operating costs, Branson Convention Center decided to shut off its escalators when no business is occurring within the facility. The facilities team estimates that the full-time cost of running the escalators is between $40,000 and $50,000 each year; the center plans to shrink this number significantly with their energy-saving strategy.

The Branson Convention Center is also changing its HVAC scheduling to better accommodate the number of people in the building. If there isn’t an event occurring within the space, the HVAC system automatically raises or lowers temperatures to reduce energy consumption. The facility staff is also pursuing composting to reduce the amount of waste generated by commercial food operations.

Most of these green ideas came from a new employee-led taskforce that focuses on reducing the building’s environmental impact. After spending time brainstorming and discussing possible green building options, the taskforce turned its ideas into a sustainability plan.

At Genentech in California, a staff-formed green team developed additional ways to reduce environmental impact beyond what the facilities management team had already put into place. The team created a web-based forum where every employee can suggest sustainability ideas like this one: Genentech decided to invest in filtered water machines and reusable beverage containers to reduce consumption of bottled water. They also conducted a water taste test to discourage bottled water use, asking employees to compare the taste of bottled water along with filtered water available from a machine. This green initiative has saved the company almost $200,000 a year.

Citi’s green team in St. Louis also came up with an idea that could be implemented within all kinds of organizations. By establishing an excess office supply exchange program, they reduced waste and saved approximately $10,000 for the St. Louis location. If a department had supplies they weren’t planning to use in the future (anything from filing cabinets to toner and file folders), they communicated this message to the rest of the organization. Other departments can then take what they need, possibly preventing an unnecessary purchase (and keeping these items out of the landfill).

What green ideas have been implemented in your building after seeing them in action elsewhere? Where do you find inspiration for new sustainability ideas?

Steve DeBusk is global energy solutions manager for Eastman Performance Films, LLC. Steve has 30 years of experience in energy efficiency. He is a Certified Energy Manager, a Certified Measurement and Verification Professional, and a Certified Sustainable Development Professional. Follow Steve on Twitter @greenbldgs.

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