By Peter Petropoulos, MBA candidate at Booth School of Business, University of Chicago, 2010 EDF Climate Corps fellow at PepsiCo, Member of Net Impact
Last month, I wrote a blog about a revelation I had as an EDF Climate Corps fellow working atPepsiCo. Through analyzing the company’s utility bills and compilation of data about its electricity, water and gas usage, I debunked a myth that the PepsiCo facility near Dallas, TX (at which I’m working this summer) was far from becoming LEED certified.
In realizing that the facility could, in fact, meet many of the USGBC’s LEED rating system prerequisites, I have been filling out my draft LEED scorecard and plotting the best way for the building to acquire enough LEED points to become a certified green building.
In order to reach my goal of at least a Silver level certification, I will need to pick up 50 points in total. Below, I have outlined areas where PepsiCo and other companies can begin to look for easy-to-pick-up points.
Optimizing energy performance
At up to 18 points, optimizing energy performance is one of the best opportunities to gain some key points. So far, I have found opportunities for PepsiCo in:
Changing the operating schedule of the air handling units
Connecting additional lighting not currently connected to the central control system already on site
Retrocommissioning the HVAC system, which was designed for a 24/7 call center though PepsiCo is not run 24/7
Installing occupancy sensors in the many conference rooms that lack them
All together these energy efficiency projects should yield three to four points, which may not sound like much but are critical points to the overall success of the project.
Stretching vision to new areas of sustainability
As the comprehensive LEED rating system does not solely rely on energy use, I have had to stretch the energy-specific knowledge I acquired during the Climate Corps training into new areas of sustainability through:
Writing an integrated pest management plan to reduce the use of toxic chemicals – 1 point
Monitoring the purchasing of consumables and switching to those with more recycled content – 1 point
Regularly inspecting dumpsters to examine the waste stream and ensure that materials are not going to the landfill unnecessarily – 1 point
Installing plumbing fixtures that exceed the minimum requirements for water efficiency – 1 point
What have I learned from all of this snooping around? When seeking a LEED certification, there are a few pitfalls to watch out for:
1. Don’t expect what you don’t inspect.
Just because the recycling policy is in place, filters are supposed to be changed every six months, or the lights go off “automatically” at 7 PM, does not mean that these things actually happen100% of the time. If it is the responsibility of the janitorial staff, security, one of the on-site vendors, etc., regular audits to the policies are the only way to ensure that they are working.
2. Get creative.
LEED is expansive and once you make it past the prerequisites, there are no required points. It is important to investigate all of the opportunities, pursue your best options, and try not to ignore the less exciting topics – the points can add up fast.
3. You can’t win if you don’t keep score.
There is more to LEED than what is spelled out in most reference books. Do your research. There may be extra points available for regional priorities in your area. There are points available for innovations that your team comes up with. There are even points for exemplary performance if you blow the requirements out of the water. It is critical to keep track of each point, each possible point or points that should be eliminated. Cost per point is another good metric to track to help steer your plan down the optimal path.
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