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!!!


IBM’s coming on board will speed up the rollout of Smart Grids

Light House

The observant amongst you may have noticed that we have talked quite a bit about smart grids here on GreenMonk. That is because we believe fundamentally in what it is they are trying to achieve and how they are going about it.

And we are not alone in that!

SAP’s AMI Lighthouse Council is all about Smart Grids and hence SAP are holding their SAP for Utilities conference in San Antonio Texas in October where there will be a major focus on Smart Grids.

As well as SAP, not surprisingly the utilities are all over this space because Smart Grids will give them the ability to far better manage their energy supply and the demand, thereby reducing the number of outages. It seems that every day brings news of a new Smart Grid trial by some utility.

ComEd are looking at Smart Grids in Chicago, Manitoba Hydro is testing about 4,500 smart meters in Winnipeg, Xcel Energy has announced plans to make Boulder the first SmartGridCityTM, PEPCO has rolled out a Smart Grid trial in 1,000 homes in Washington DC, Austin Energy plans to have all its meters converted to Smart Meters by December 2008, etc. In fact, here is a Google Map of all the Smart Grid projects currently underway globally!

As well as the utilities, because this is a whole new area, there are literally hundreds of startups in this space from the likes of SynergyModule in Ireland to more established names like Echelon and Itron in the US.

Because of the involvement of these myriad players, IBM has also come on board to try to bring some standards to the table. According to this recent article in CNet,

The idea is to create a common set of communication protocols and data formats that utilities and smart-grid start-ups can adhere to.

With these technical blueprints, based on standards like TCP/IP, new technologies can be plugged into the grid on a large scale…. What’s happening now is a patchwork of smart-grid trials using differing products, an approach that prevents fast technology change.

This is great news for the rollout of Smart Grids globally. If we have a universally agreed set of standards that everyone adheres to then the creation and integration of smart grids and smart grid devices suddenly becomes far less complex.

It will still take some time before there are the devices in place, and the regulators and utilities sign-up to convert completely to Smart Grids but a heavy weight like IBM’s coming on board can only help move things along.

[Full disclosure: SAP have invited me to attend the SAP for Utilities conference, I am a sometime unpaid advisor to SynergyModule and IBM are a RedMonk client, though not a GreenMonk client!]

Photo Credit MumbleyJoe