From federal office buildings and corporate offices to bottling plants and airport terminals, businesses are implementing a variety of energy-efficient projects that run the gamut from standard energy conservation measures such as turning off lights and electronics not in use to unique “living walls.”
As an example, the 18-story Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, in Portland, Ore., will feature a series of 250-foot-tall trellises as well as several energy-efficient features such as rooftop solar panels, elevators that generate electricity on the way down, and smart lighting systems that adjust to available lighting, reports USA Today.
The living walls can provide insulation, clean urban air, reduce sound, and in summer, the leaves provide shade and in winter, admit light, reports USA Today. They can also grow fruits and vegetables.
The building’s makeover is part of a $133 million Recovery Act-funded green makeover, according to the article.
Last year’s $787 billion Recovery Act includes funds for the General Services Administration to build new energy-efficient buildings or retrofit old ones, reports USA Today.
Boosted in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which will provide significant funding for renovations to federal buildings, the total potential market for major green renovations in the commercial building sector is approximately $400 billion, according to a study from Pike Research.
In addition, the Department of Energy (DOE) is funding a $450-million energy upgrade program that could save businesses and households $100 million annually in utility bills.
According to the Center for American Progress and the Energy Future Coalition, the organization’s $500-billion plan with public and private investment would retrofit 40 percent of the nation’s buildings within the next ten years, create about 625,000 full-time jobs, generate $32 billion to $64 billion in annual consumer energy cost savings, and reduce global warming pollution by 20 to 40 percent for 50 million homes and small businesses.
Awarded the LEED Silver level certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for its Herndon, Va., office building, Volkswagen Group of America uses energy-efficient building features such as compact florescent bulbs at each desk and motion-sensor lights, reports the Chattanoogan.com. Part of the company’s energy conservation measures include turning off all electronics at the end of the day, according to the article.
The company also has implemented green cleaning techniques, a comprehensive recycling program, and sustainable product purchasing.
Poland Spring’s newest bottling facility in Kingfield, Me., built in 2008, officially received the LEED Gold certification, making it the first manufacturing facility in Maine to receive LEED Gold status.
Thanks to its environmentally conscious design, the Kingfield facility saves 70.4 million BTU’s of energy each year, according to Poland Spring. At least 35 percent of the building’s calculated electricity comes from renewable energy sources including wind, solar or low impact hydroelectric.
The facility also features energy-efficient windows, solar reflectance roofing materials, and control sensors that monitor and regulate heat and air conditioning.
The bottling plant also conserves approximately 140,000 gallons of water a year, uses a storm water management plan that controls 100 percent of storm water to minimize runoff and to protect nearby streams, and recycles more than 90 percent of its waste stream.
The Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport opened its new $1.5 million, 4,864-square-foot general aviation terminal that delivers both energy and water efficiency, reports GreenvilleOnline.com.
The LEED registered project features large glass windows to let in more daylight, and uses 70 percent less water and 30 percent less energy than a traditional building.
The project also diverted about 95 percent of the waste away from landfills, and used at least 50 percent of building materials that were either recycling or purchased locally, according to the article.