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Rackspace, Whirlpool Energize Savings Through Building Design

RackspaceHQWhether your business manufactures appliances like Whirlpool or is an IT hosting service provider like Rackspace Hosting, achieving the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification comes along with long-term energy cost savings and big reductions in water use and emissions.

Randy Smith, director of real estate for Rackspace Hosting, whose new headquarters has been certified LEED gold said “going green is a practical, long term decision both, fiscally and environmentally.

This is despite a recent study that indicates that support for LEED certification has slipped over the past two years. Still, the survey finds that cost remains a major driver for green building projects during the economic downturn.

Rackspace achieved LEED gold certification thanks in part to the company’s reuse of a vacant structure as part of a community redevelopment program. In Phases I and II of the renovation, Rackspace has built out more than 230,000-square-feet within the 1.2-million-square-foot mall. The company plans to expand its green office space in Phase III.

Here are some project highlights. During demolition, Rackspace removed and recycled more than 1,900 tons of concrete, metal, wood and other materials, diverting 58 percent of waste from landfills. The company also donated six trailer loads of recovered building materials such as doors, windows and fixtures to Habitat for Humanity.

In addition, 27 percent of all materials used in the building came from recycled content.

Sustainable features include design materials such as carpeting with no or low volatile organic compounds, natural lighting through skylights, low-flow toilets to conserve water, and recycling bins throughout the facility.

The building also uses motion sensors and timers that resulted in a lighting power density reduction of 15 percent below standard. For landscaping, the project chose drought resistant plants and an irrigation system that uses only recycled water collected through a cistern, helping to reduce the company’s water use by 40 percent.

Rackspace also launched its business carbon calculator last year as part of the company’s Greenspace initiative.

Also earning gold level certification are Whirlpool’s regional distribution centers (RDCs) in McDonough, Ga. (near Atlanta) and Spanaway, Wash. (near Seattle). The appliance maker’s RDCs in Columbus, Ohio, and Denver, Colo., also have achieved LEED certification. These four facilities will generate an energy savings of more than 20 percent and more than 40 percent water efficiency.

Whirlpool claims the 1.6-million-square-foot Atlanta and Columbus facilities are among the 10 largest LEED certified warehouses in the United States.

Key features of all four LEED-certified  sites include on-site water collection and treatment, white TPO membrane installed across each roof to reduce heat island effect, low-emitting materials, increased fresh air ventilation, preferred fuel-efficient vehicle parking, and use of electric lift trucks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to improve indoor air quality.

The facilities also implemented water conservation measures including dual-flush valves for toilets, low-flow urinals and ultra-low-flow faucets that reduce water use by 40 percent. For energy conservation, the buildings feature fluorescent interior and exterior lighting, electric space heating, pump usage and heat rejection, and lighting control measures.

The RDCs all use native plantings, which resulted in a 100 percent reduction in potable water use in the Atlanta and Spanaway RDCs and a 97 percent cut in the Denver RDC. The Columbus RDC reuses collected rain water to irrigate the native plants used in the landscaping.

Both the Atlanta and Seattle RDCs also use automatic lighting controls and implemented a low mercury lighting program. The Seattle RDC also installed a building automation and control system to track energy consumption and environmental conditions.

The projects also used Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood — 60 percent at the Columbus RDC, more than 70 percent used in Atlanta, and more than 85 percent in Seattle.

With these latest certifications, Whirlpool should remain on track to cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 6.6 percent by 2012.

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