UPS Headquarters Gains LEED Gold Certification

Nelson: I’m sure there is some clever comment to be made about
“Brown going Green” here.

Despite UPS headquarters being 20 years old, the company just announced that it has become the first in the package delivery and logistics industry to gain LEED Gold Certification from the US Green Building Council. UPS submitted the building for review in May 2011 (shortly after the appointment of Chief Sustainability Officer Scott Wicker) and says it’s the first of many to be assessed for certification.

“Our plan is to assess all new facilities and some existing facilities to see if they qualify for LEED,” Wicker said in a press release.

So how, as a 20-year-old building, was it actually accomplished?

It turns out that one of the requirements for LEED certification is that the building stands on a sustainable site. We were surprised to learn that only six of UPS’s 35 acres are actually developed. The remainder is Piedmont Forest, an untouched wildlife preserve. An arborist was used during construction and the company planted more than 900 trees after when the site was finished in the 1990s.

The nearby forest and concrete roof both have a positive impact on the efficiency of the building by reducing the heat from the rays of the hot Georgia sun that hits the interior. Solar shading and thermal insulation glazes were also used to reduce the incoming rays.

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UK Green Jobs While US Flags

Nelson: So why the disparity? Can you spot the difference?  Read on and tell me what you think the cause is.

Britain’s coalition government has put shrinking the deficit atop its list of priorities, and even supporters or Prime Minister David Cameron’s austerity agenda have acknowledged it has yielded painfully slow growth. But on renewables? The U.K. says the private sector is powering ahead there.

The government said companies announced investments totaling £2.5 billion ($3.9 billion) in clean energy projects from April 1 through Nov. 16, 2011. The Department of Energy & Climate Change said these investments, sprinkled throughout the country [PDF], had the potential to create some 12,000 jobs and “revealed more evidence of the economic benefits of renewable energy.” The government also said the investments would help it stay on track in reaching its European Union commitment of producing 15 percent of its energy from renewable energy sources by 2020.

UK renewables

image via Wikimedia Commons

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South Carolina Amazon Center in Early Stages of Construction

Nelson: Kudos to Amazon for going local with the grading company. I hope the ongoing project stimulates local and regional construction companies and ultimately brings jobs as the center goes online.

amazon constructionYellow super-sized construction equipment with iron plows and clay-covered monster wheels move along the 200-plus acre piece of land like army tanks in a desert.

The tractors and dumptrucks are furiously clearing ground and grading the earth in preparation for Amazon.com’s new facility on John Dodd Road in Spartanburg County.

The work here began the week before Christmas and could continue for a while more before the building contractor is ready to start laying bricks and mortar. And that means the roughly 400 promised jobs at the planned facility could still be months away.

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US Treasury Puts Some “Green” Towards LEED Certification

Nelson: Yeah, I just couldn’t resist the “green” analogy.  Sorry. 

 

The U.S. Treasury Building dates back to the 19th century and is located right next door to the White House — not exactly what you think of when you think of the latest in green building. But the times they are a changin’, as per the Obama administration’s focus on greening government operations, and the U.S. Treasury Building has now taken LEED Gold in the Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance category, making it the oldest building in the world to achieve this distinction, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

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Stunning Examples of LEED Platinum from 2011

Nelson: As undeniable gorgeous and encouraging as these are, I’d still like to see more entry-level examples for the average person.  What we need for the environment, industry and society is a “Model-T” of housing.

I’ve pulled together projects, mostly homes, of all kinds — new, old, modern, traditional, etc — that we discussed in the last year.  These projects either obtained or sought LEED Platinum certification from the USGBC, and they’re some of the greener homes you’ll find most anywhere.  Click the links below for hours and hours of reading.

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Program pairs homeless vets with green jobs

Nelson: It makes me proud to see two great causes come together like this.

Veterans

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when Eddie Williams Jr.’s life got off track.

It didn’t take the nose dive he says it easily could have as a kid hanging out on East St. Louis streets. But it never took off in the way he’d hoped after serving a stint in the Army and working for decades in various blue-collar jobs.

Today, at 55, he can be found most workdays preparing the grounds at the Missouri Botanical Garden for winter. He helped plant 55,000 tulip bulbs and is fastidious in removing leaves that have fallen into beds of the north gardens, where he works under the supervision of Jason Delaney.

"He’s a phenomenal worker," said Delaney, "and very jovial in nature. That really adds to his performance."

Williams got the temporary, full-time position through a program that pairs homeless, or near homeless, veterans with green jobs. The jobs are in landscaping or recycling.

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Element Las Vegas certified for eco-friendliness

Nelson: See, its stuff like this that makes me dubious about some applications of LEED. YOU ARE BUILDING STUFF IN A DESERT WITH LIMITED RESOURCES!

Developer Jeff LaPour achieved his "green building" mission when his Element Las Vegas hotel was awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in December.

It’s the sixth Element hotel by Westin to achieve LEED certification. In 2008, parent company Starwood Hotels and Resorts mandated that all Element hotels pursue LEED certification.

The 123-room Element Las Vegas, near Town Center Drive and the Las Vegas Beltway in the Summerlin community, was built with ecofriendly materials such as recycled carpet and low-emission paints that improve indoor air quality.

Oversized windows and open space allow for more natural lighting, supplemented by fluorescent bulbs that use 75 percent less electricity than conventional bulbs.

Guest rooms are equipped with EnergyStar appliances, water-saving bathroom fixtures and recycling bins for paper, plastic and glass. Shower dispensers for shampoo and conditioner eliminate the need for wasteful minibottles. Even the ubiquitous plastic "Do Not Disturb" sign has been replaced with a magnet.