Week of May 5, 2003
Snapshot from the Field
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Big, Green and Mainstream:
New Toyota Complex Wins Prestigious Environmental Awardby JACK LYNE, Site Selection Executive Editor
of Interactive Publishing
TORRANCE, Calif. It's not easy being green, as Kermit the Frog - and just about anyone involved in building and operating corporate facilities - can tell you.
But facilities can be both green and big - and mainstream and cost-effective to boot - Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. (TMS at www.toyota.com) has demonstrated. TMS recently opened the doors to an US$87-million, 624,000-sq.-ft. (56,160-sq.-m.) sales office complex that's the biggest building ever to win prestigious Gold Level Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC at www.usgbc.org) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.
Located in metro Los Angeles in Torrance, the building is awash in environmentally friendly features. At the same time, though, it's anything but merely a costs-be-damned, do-good environmental demonstration, company officials emphasized at the facility's opening. Instead, solid business principles drove design and construction, they explained.
"Every decision along the way had to make good business sense and fall within budget guidelines," said Robert Pitts, Toyota group vice president for administrative services.
"As we were able to find things that were more sustainable from a product standpoint, we could demonstrate to senior management that these things didn't have to cost more, and they weren't oddities," TMS Corporate Manager of Real Estate and Facilities Sanford Smith told Site Selection in describing the company's overall "Process Green" initiative. "They were mainstream types of decisions that were being made in the materials and products we were specifying."
(For more details on Process Green and Smith's comments, see "The Green Team" from the January 2003 Site Selection.)
Environmentally Friendly Facilities 'Don't
As Pitts noted at the new building's opening, "We wanted to show that building an environmentally sensitive office complex does not have to be limited to small or unique projects - or ones with inflated budgets."
The office complex is also important in light of a frequent contention by many environmental activists - namely, that building construction, particularly with large projects, causes the most long-term ecological damage.
"Office buildings have a significant impact on the environment, using about one-third of the electricity and 12 percent of the drinking water in the U.S.," said Christine Ervin, USGBC president & CEO. The voluntary, consensus-driven organization's 1,000 members include not only government agencies and environmental organizations, but also many prominent private-sector concerns - including, for instance, the American Institute of Architects, Bovis Lend Lease, Herman Miller, Johnson Controls and Turner Construction.
"Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the environmental impact buildings have, while also enhancing the overall work environment," Ervin said in describing Toyota's newly dedicated complex. "This complex demonstrates what can be accomplished when concern for the environment plays a role in every aspect of the design and building process."
95% of Building Content RecycledThe TMS complex's design and building fashioned a host of features meriting Gold Certification from the USGBC's LEED initiative, including:
Widespread use of recycled content: Ninety-five percent of the new facility is made from recycled content, according to LEED calculations. The recycled content includes the complex's more than 250 miles (400 kilometers) of reinforced steel - materials primarily made from recycled automobiles.
One of North America's largest commercial solar electric systems, greatly reducing peak-hour demands: Developed by PowerLight Corporation and containing a 501-kilowatt photovoltaic roof component, the system generates enough electricity each day to power more than 500 homes.
A special pipeline that supplies recycled water to the complex for cooling, landscaping and restroom flushing: Installed by the West Basin Municipal Water District, that pipeline, along with the facility's other features, will annually reduce potable water consumption by more than 11 million gallons (42 million liters). That's enough water to supply almost 68 homes a year.
Extensive use of energy-efficient features: With its thermally insulated glass, direct-indirect lighting and high-efficiency insulation, the complex exceeds California's recommended energy-efficiency targets by more than 20 percent.
The complex also features a hydrogen fueling and service station, which will support Toyota's fuel-cell vehicle development program. Built in partnership with Stuart Energy, the station is the first of six that Toyota's planning in California. The stations are part of the automaker's effort to create what company officials are calling "a fuel-cell community" with government, industry and educational organizations.
The Torrance facility's Gold Certification is the LEED program's second-highest environmental seal of approval. LEED's only higher award is Platinum Certification. Platinum Certification requires constructing a building with about the same environmental impact as a rose garden. Platinum awards have been presented to only two buildings - the University of California at Santa Barbara's Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Phillip Merrill Environmental Center in Annapolis, Md. Other private-sector firms that have won LEED's Gold Certification include Herman Miller, Honda Motor Company, Johnson Controls and Pharmacia.
Service Providers Also PraisedTMS officials praised the service providers that took major roles in the project's efforts to attain Gold Certification. Among the firms singled out were sustainable design consulting firm CTG Energetics; architectural firm LPA Inc, which designed the complex; and Turner Construction Company, the project's general contractor.
Those partnering firms represent the ripple effect of Toyota's environmental initiative through the automaker's service-provider network.
As Smith told Site Selection after his speech to the Industrial Asset Management Council(www.iamc.org), "When we meet with our [service providers] . . . everyone is supportive of the concept. What they're concerned about is whether it will negatively impact their business, and if they are not able to change rapidly enough, will we abandon them?
"We are trying to drive change into the industry and partner with the people who have been supportive of us and been our business partners for years," Smith continued. "As we give them opportunities to go look at their processes and join us, while they may be skeptical at first, once they do a little investigating on their own, they find ideas and concepts that can help us with our environmental objective and improve their bottom line and profitability as well."
TMS' profitability has also fared well with its Process Green plan. During the program's first two years, the company has seen an average return on investment of more than 55 percent while reducing its energy use by 10 percent.
Process Green's long-term mission is more ambitious: cutting company energy consumption by 50 percent by 2010.
"We've been moving," said Pitts, "to become known as an environmental company."
©2003 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.