How SAP achieved LEED Platinum certification for their headquarters in Pennsylvania

As I was in Pennsylvania to attend SAP’s Analyst’s Base Camp event earlier this year, I took the opportunity to get a tour of the new LEED Platinum certified Headquarters building. I was shown around the building by the facilities manager, Jim Dodd, who informed me of the different steps taken to enable the structure to achieve its an impressive LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

I videoed the tour and see below for a transcription of it:

Tom Raftery: Hey everyone! Welcome to GreenMonk TV, I am here in Newtown Square at SAP Headquarters. I am with –

Jim Dodd: Jim Dodd.

Tom Raftery: Jim, you are –

Jim Dodd: The Facilities Manager for the campus.

Tom Raftery: Okay, now we are standing on a — we are in the new building in Newtown Square.

Jim Dodd: The new LEED Platinum Headquarters’ building, right.

Tom Raftery: Okay, and can you tell me about the floor that we are standing on?

Jim Dodd: In comparison to the floor in the headquarters’ old building, where we used marble that was imported from Italy, what we wanted to do was to reduce that cost and do a sustainable floor. And so this floor is a concrete floor, and it has a mixture of seashells and glass in it on a terrazzo finish and then we polished it and honed it up, so it would be nice and shiny. But it’s considerably less expensive obviously than the marble floor in the main building and we use it in the atrium area in a radiant floor which we’ll talk about in a minute.

But it’s a less expensive solution and yet it’s a very attractive solution in terms of the flooring for both the link to the new building and the atrium that runs the full length of the floor downstairs on the promenade.

Tom Raftery: So, Jim, tell me about the floor.

Jim Dodd: Okay. In the promenade area, below us here, is a radiant floor, we have pipes that run through that floor and we have ten geothermal wells that are drilled in the back of our property. We take the water out of the ground where it comes as a constant temperature and we pump it through the piping on the concrete floor downstairs and the floor radiates heat or air-conditioning depending on what time of the year it is. And it helps to keep this big atrium very comfortable without having to use large amounts of air-conditioning or heating.

Tom Raftery: So it’s just using natural heat or cooling from the earth.

Jim Dodd: That’s correct, yes. So the water really comes out about 55 degrees out of the ground and we can pump that through the floor and that cools the concrete and radiates coolness in the summer time, and then in the winter time what we got to do is heat that water up to about 72 degrees and then we pump that through the floor and it heats the concrete and it radiates heat off the floor, and because it’s on the floor, it affects the employees immediately and it keeps the atrium very, very, very comfortable.

Tom Raftery: Okay, and you’ve got these nice banisters.

Jim Dodd: Yes, it’s an interesting situation here. When the original site survey was done for this building, it would have wiped out of a grove of the mature Chinese chestnut trees that are absolutely beautiful and are part of the aesthetics of the campus. So we moved the building in order to save half of those chestnut trees, but the chestnut trees that we did have to harvest in order to put the building here, we had them milled into handrails for the whole building.

About 90% of what’s in this building to construct it was sourced locally within 500 miles of the building and that’s a sustainability feature again, it provides points on the LEED scale because it cuts down on your carbon output because you are not exporting things from thousands and thousands of miles away.

Tom Raftery: So Jim, tell me about the under floor?

Jim Dodd: Yeah, the difference — the primary difference between the original building and the new building is in the original building the air distribution comes down from the ceiling plenum, and of course, that’s not very efficient because heat rises, so if you are trying to get heat down to where the people sit, it’s not in a very efficient approach. In this building, we use an under floor distribution where the air comes up through the floor and it’s controlled in each location with a vent, so people can control the amount of air coming in their space and by coming up from the floor, the treated air gets to the employee immediately and there is an immediate reaction to that temperature adjustment.

In the other building of course the hot air comes down but it turns around and goes right back up, so it’s not as efficient as this underfloor system is in this building here. We have a wood feature in each of our hallways that separate the neighborhoods and it’s made from bamboo. Again a sustainable wood that’s renewable every seven years in comparison to oak or walnut or some other wood that takes 40 or 50 years to mature. We decided to use bamboo in this building because it’s sustainable.

Tom Raftery: So, tell me about the carpets.

Jim Dodd: So the carpet, in most instances when you install large amounts of carpet, there is volatile organic chemicals in the carpet like formaldehyde that require you to aerate the building for a period of time before you can occupy it. We work with the manufacturer of this particular carpet to reduce or eliminate VOCs in it. So we did not have to ventilate the building for a period of time prior to occupancy.
And it makes for a cleaner environment for the employees overall without the organic chemicals off gassing from the carpet.

Tom Raftery: So what have we got beside us, Jim?

Jim Dodd: This is a filter water system that we put in. A number of years ago we used to provide bottled water for the employees and then we realized how much plastic waste was being generated, and even though it was being recycled. We decided to eliminate bottled water from the campus and we installed one of these Innowave water systems in each of our pantries. It’s filtered and it also cools the water and heats the water. So if you want to make tea, you can get hot water, and if you want cold water, you can get cold water.

But it reduced our cost by over $120,000 on bottled water, and got rid of the plastic issue.

Tom Raftery: So, Jim, where are we now?

Jim Dodd: We are in the chiller room of the new building of the Platinum LEED building and what we do that’s unique in this building in comparison to other buildings is we actually make ice at night and store it in these very big tanks behind me, and we use the system because at night the electricity is less expensive and the pressure on the grid is lower. So we don’t have to run the chiller during the day, because what we do is, we melt the ice during the day when we need air-conditioning and then we use that to cool the building and we don’t have to use our chiller during the day, when the grid is being stressed by everyone else, wanting air conditioning.

Tom Raftery: So Jim, tell me about this garden, where are we?

Jim Dodd: We are on the roof of the new building, believe it or not, and this is a green roof, this is a very unique approach to maintaining constant temperatures in the building. By having a green roof we keep the building cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
The other unique thing about this, as you can see we have to mow grass and we didn’t want to have to store gasoline up here, because it’s a hazardous flammable material. So we sought out a company that made a very good electric lawnmower and we mow the grass up here with electric lawnmower. In that way, we don’t have to store any gasoline up here, and it’s quite and it doesn’t just dirt people when they are working, it’s just a very unique approach to roof construction.

Tom Raftery: Jim, what have we behind this?

Jim Dodd: Behind this is the meadow as a part of our 102 acres of property here, and what we did this year, was working with the Triskeles Foundation and One Village, One Farm, these are non-profit organizations; we agree to put in an organic garden. We have enough room. So we put in a 100×50 organic garden with 22 raised beds and we’ll donate the food at the end of this year to all the local food banks.

We expect to produce hundreds of pounds of produce in this garden, and working with organic, no pesticides or anything like that, all natural ingredients to keep the bugs off, and then there is a 6 foot deer fence around it, because we have a lot of deer on the property and the garden would just get eaten to nothing. So we put a fence around it to protect it from the deer.

So we’re doing cucumbers, summer squash, tomatoes and peppers, and then, we’ll have a fall planting as well, and all of that food will go to the local food banks.

We have 80 volunteers that have volunteered to take care of the garden. So we have plenty of people to take care of it, and it’s going to work out really, really well, and it’s another sustainable aspect of the property.

We also have two beehives on the property as well. We have a beekeeper that works for SAP and he had asked us if he could put beehives on the property. And we agreed to do that, because we felt that that was another sustainable issue in terms of pollinating and protecting the bees.

There has been a degeneration of bee colonies around the world and so having good bee colonies is very important to the propagation of all the different plant life that we have on the campus. So we decided to put the beehives here as well.

Tom Raftery: So what have we behind us, Sir Jim?

Jim Dodd: Okay, what you see behind us here is a 60,000 gallon cistern, buried in the ground, and we collect our rainwater in that cistern and then we use the rainwater for irrigation and flushing toilets, you know what, they call brown water or gray water, and with all the rain that we’ve had it’s full.

But it’s another way for us to get LEED points, but it’s also a better way to manage our water consumption on campus because we can use that rainwater to irrigate. We have a beautiful courtyard in between the two buildings and we irrigate that with that water. We also irrigate the green roof that you’ve seen with the cistern water. So it all goes into that 2 million gallons of savings of water per year.

Tom Raftery: So why are we standing beside this artwork, Jim?

Jim Dodd: This is part of our social sustainability program where we work with local non-profits to do certain things. In this particular case, we work with a non-profit called Fresh Artists. These are young children, these are not adults, these are children who have painted this artwork that you see behind you.

We make a donation, substantial donation to fresh artists, so they can buy supplies and easels and paints and brushes for their children, and then we in turn purchase their artwork to hang in this building.

So except on the executive floor, all other floors of this building have examples of this artwork from these young children and some of them are quite attractive and fun. But it’s a social sustainability thing as a part of our work with the community.

And the IT systems?

Jim Dodd: It’s a dashboard.

Tom Raftery: Right.

Jim Dodd: And it tells you the consumption of electricity in this building, the consumption of electricity in the other building, and it tells me what my PUE is in my data center, which is a –

Tom Raftery: I know PUE.

Jim Dodd: Okay, you know what that is. So it tells me how we’re operating, whether there’s some kind of anomaly, we’re using more electricity than usual. We can get just a quick glimpse of how the building is functioning, and what its consumption rates are in both buildings.

But then they go far beyond that and they can drill down to an individual air handler, right to the motor and determine if it’s running, how fast it’s going, how much power it’s using. We monitor over 10,000 points of information of data on all the systems in the building.

Full disclosure – SAP paid my travel and expenses to attend the SAP Analysts Base Camp

Autodesk’s Farnborough office going for LEED certification

Autodesk UK recently moved offices to a facility in Farnborough. In their previous offices, they had occupied several floors, so they set out to find offices where all their staff could be on the same floor, and yet have plenty off access to light. Also, they wanted to drastically reduce their footprint, so they to great care to make the office as green as possible (given that it was a retrofit, not a new build) and they have applied for LEED Gold certification for the office.

I visited with Autodesk in Farnborough last week and I was extremely impressed with the steps they have taken, as well as with the pride Autodesk rightfully show for the ongoing benefits of this project.

Some of the highlights:
The construction
94% construction waste recycled/ diverted from landfill
All energy/water consumption measured and monitored on site
The site was registered with the Considerate Constructors Scheme and achieved a score of 34 (85%)

Low energy lighting in Autodesk UK office

Low energy lighting in Autodesk UK office

Materials
High percentage of FSC timber sourced
All new furniture contains high % recycled/recyclable content. Re-used old furniture items where possible and ensured all unused items were diverted from landfill (e.g. donated to charity)
All paints, sealants and adhesives have been sourced with a low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) content, to minimise chemicals and maximise occupant well-being
Selected new materials with high recycled content
A high proportion of new materials have been manufactured within 500 miles

Office
Secure bicycle racks, lockers, shower and changing facilities are provided for cyclists
10% of parking spaces are allocated to car sharers
Water consumption has been reduced by at least 20% through the installation of water efficient taps, shower fittings, WC’s and urinals.
Occupancy sensors have been installed on the lights for more than 90% of the lighting load and daylight controls on more than 50% – meaning that lights are not left on or are lighting areas unnecessarily.
Air conditioning equipment has been zoned in order to provide control to suit requirements for solar exposure and ensuring employee comfort
Recycling facilities have been built into the layout to ensure recycling wherever possible
All new electrical appliances are Energy Star rated
Desks have been located to try and maximise natural daylight and external views

The company also has a 6 seater TelePresence suite to reduce the amount of business travel it’s employees need to do. And Autodesk facilitates employees who wish to work from home – so much so that around 50% of their staff take advantage of this – reducing Autodesk’s property footprint, and the number of commute miles its workers undertake.

Autodesk’s Singapore office was awarded LEED Platinum certification earlier this year – with any luck when I’m in Singapore in November I’ll get a chance to check it out!

Full disclosure – Autodesk is not a GreenMonk client and the trip to visit AutoDesk’s Farnborough facilities was undertaken entirely at GreenMonk’s expense.

Image credit Tom Raftery

Living PlanIT brings sustainable urbanisation technologies to market

Construction

Photo credit billjacobus1

I had one of the most interesting calls of my RedMonk career last week. It was with Steve Lewis, CEO and co-founder of Living PlanIT (ignore the fact that they are using SilverLight on their homepage – that is prob because of Steve’s Microsoft background).

Living PlanIT are just coming out of stealth and have developed significant IP around sustainable urbanisation. To whit, as Steve explained to me on the call, up until now the construction industry was one of the final hold-outs in the technology revolution. There was very little by way of joined-up processes and consequently massive amounts of waste. Living PlanIT have created a new way of approaching construction projects which is technology led and will vastly reduce construction costs and footprints.

Living PlanIT haven’t just stopped there.

They have signed a letter of Intent with Cisco to work together to build a city in Paredes in northern Portugal on a 17 sq km site which house 225,000 people and will showcase, not just the company’s construction nous but also the city will be a sustainability showcase.

Cisco, as part of the agreement have committed to developing a global innovation center for sensor networks within the new city. They will also integrate tens of millions of sensors with Cisco’s network and computing platforms and integrate to demonstrate Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities technologies and solutions at urban scale. This will be the ultimate test lab to develop technologies which can be quickly and easily deployed in other urban sustainability projects.

The city itself will run off renewable power and will generate 150% of its electricity needs. It will be importing waste from the surrounding towns and cities. The houses in the city will use 50-60% less electricity than comparable houses and 80% less water!

I asked Steve how they will achieve these kinds of savings and he told me they would be using a sensor network throughout the city – creating what he called an urban operating system. This is analogous, as Robert Eccles said, to a nervous system, which will make the city aware and able to respond quickly to events, minimising waste.

As an example, Steve mentioned that on average we waste 11 litres of water per day waiting for the shower to come to the right temperature. In the PlanIT Valley project in Portugal, water from the shower will only be delivered when it is the correct temperature, thereby in one swoop, saving 11 litres per person!

Renewables, storage (using ice, for example) and waste to energy will be used throughout so that the city will be importing waste from surrounding municipalities and exporting amino acid by-products for the pharmaceutical and food industries.

If they stopped right there Living PlanIT would be doing quite well.

However, with Steve’s background in the software industry, he wants to make this a platform! The idea being that Living PlanIT licenses its technology to other companies to quickly crank out new construction based on these principles.

Indeed, according to Steve, they already have inquiries for the development of another 30 cities and 16 other re-fits (including a recently announced agreement with Las Vegas)!

With projected population growth of 2-3bn, the world has to deliver between 9,500 and 10,000 new cities over the next 40 years to house everyone, so the scale of the opportunity is significant, to say the least. And, frankly, if these new cities are not developed sustainably, we are all in trouble!

Living PlanIT is no small project but if Steve and the guys can pull this off, it could change how the cities of tomorrow work. For good.

You should follow me on twitter here.

Adobe Livecycle streamlines LEED certification process

LEED Registration pdf

Speaking of LEED certified buildings, I found a great site yesterday which outlines how the LEED certification process has been streamlined using Adobe software.

On their site carahsoft link to a whitepaper (pdf warning!) which goes into detail on how the Adobe Livecycle software made the LEED certification process vastly more efficient.

From the whitepaper:

Traditionally, applying for LEED certification has been time-consuming and paper-intensive. For example, a manager seeking certification for a new or existing structure would have to complete a complex spreadsheet with up to 69 tabs and submit thousands of pages of supporting documentation for various building components, such as heating systems, landscaping, and interior finishes. After receiving an application, USGBC copied the materials to share across a review team made up of staff and third-party experts. The entire process—from the initial submittal of materials to achieving LEED certification—could take years.

Because of the perceived difficulty in achieving certification, many organizations did not apply. To address the problem and streamline its internal operations, USGBC adopted Adobe LiveCycle server software….

Ultimately, USGBC used Adobe LiveCycle software to create and deploy more than 400 two-page intelligent Adobe PDF forms that building-project teams can download from USGBC’s website….

After applicants have completed the Adobe PDF forms, they can attach supporting documentation—such as landscaping plans, details about construction materials and interior finishes, and other information—to the application as Adobe PDF files or in native file formats from programs such as AutoCAD®, Pro/E, and Microsoft Office. All the materials are uploaded to USGBC’s online workspace, LEED Online….

Because USGBC linked the submitted Adobe PDF forms with SAP, data is automatically captured in SAP as application forms are received, eliminating the need for USGBC staff to manually key application data into back-end systems. The enhanced process helps reduce costs and improve the accuracy of data, and it also makes it easier for USGBC to track and report green-building trends….

Chris Smith, USGBC’s Chief Operating Office said:

We estimate that the automated workflows supported by Adobe solutions will accelerate the process of submitting LEED application forms by as much as 50%

while, Joseph Diianni, director of technology for USGBC said:

Best of all, we believe the new solution will encourage even more organizations to seek LEED certification

So Adobe not only is the world’s first commercial enterprise to achieve a total of three Platinum certifications under the LEED program, but its software now makes it easier for others to be certified too?

Good job Adobe!

LEED certified buildings on the rise!

Adobe headquarters in San Jose received three platinum LEED ratings

Photo credit kqedquest

According to the US Green Building Council (USGBC) buildings account for 38% of CO2 emissions in the United States, buildings consume 70% of the electricity load in the U.S and CO2 emissions from buildings are projected to grow faster than any other sector over the next 25 years.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a Green building rating system which has been deveoped to provide a suite of standards for the design, construction and operation of high performance Green buildings.

According to the the LEED Wikipedia entry:

LEED certified buildings have healthier work and living environments, which contributes to higher productivity and improved employee health and comfort.

According to the USGBC January Green building by the numbers report (.doc warning):

By 2009, 82% of corporate America is expected to be greening at least 16% of their real estate portfolios; of these corporations, 18% will be greening more than 60% of their real estate portfolios

The green building products market is projected to be worth $30-$40 billion annually by 2010

With that in mind it was great to see the report that AMD’s Lone Star campus in Texas has achieved a gold LEED certification. Thanks to David Berlind for tipping me off on this.

According to the release this is the largest gold certified LEED commercial building in Texas and some of the sustainable design elements include:

  • Energy Use: Powered 100% by Austin Energy’s GreenChoice® electricity, which comes from clean, renewable energy sources such as wind power
  • Rainwater collection: Designed with a 1.2 million gallon capacity rainwater collection system, which is designed to provide water for the buildings’ cooling towers and irrigation
  • Construction materials: Incorporated more than 20% of construction materials based on recycled content, and with more than 20% of locally sourced construction materials
  • 100% Native Landscaping: AMD partnered with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to salvage the native trees, shrubs and grasses within the footprint of the campus, and replant them following construction.

AMD joins other well known tech companies who have rolled large LEED building projects like Adobe (Platinum) and Symantec (Gold).

To paraphrase Fr Ted – “Up with this kind of thing!!!