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Suburban Office Complex Claims 49% Lower Energy Use

sap-building2A new 200,000-square-foot building in Newton Square, Pa., includes numerous sustainable design features including a grass roof, toilets that use rainwater for flushing and an air-conditioning system that makes its own ice for cooling.

The building is expected to have 49 percent lower energy usage than a comparable conventional building.

The building, which is owned by SAP AG, was builty to comply with LEED platinum-level certification, according to a press release. The building is under review by LEED, and SAP hopes for certification to come in 2010.

As for energy efficiency, the building uses geothermal wells to employ constant ground temperature to both heat and cool areas of the building. Lighting systems are controlled by sensors to dim the lighting levels and raise or lower window shades based on the level of sunlight coming in.

A hybrid air conditioning system makes ice overnight when energy demands and electric rates are lowest, then during the day the chilled water from melting ice is used to cool the building.

To take maximum advantage of available daylight, the new building features a floor-to-ceiling glass exterior and an open-space plan.

To integrate the building into the surrounding natural environment, grass grows on the roof and native and regional vegetation is used in landscaping.

To reduce water use, rainwater from the green roof and other areas is collected in a 50,000-gallon cistern to supply water for landscape irrigation and flushing toilets in some of the building’s bathrooms. Another aspect of the bathrooms includes low-flow bathroom fixtures that should save more than a million gallons of water per year.

The new complex is at SAP North America’s 110-acre campus, adjacent to SAP’s existing LEED-certified building. The building falls in line with the company’s efforts to reduce its CO2 emissions to 2000 levels, by 2020, according to a press release.

More and more buildings are being constructed to save energy and other resources. As an example, the EPA’s Energy Star rating for new construction certified 60 percent more buildings in 2008 than 2007.

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