by Curtis Runyan
The World Resources Institute has developed a new guide for office-based operations, “Working 9 to 5 on Climate Change.” The guide, based on WRI’s experiences in pursuing its commitment to reduce emissions in its Washington, DC office to net zero, outlines the steps organizations can take to save energy and reduce emissions.
In the United States, the commercial sector, including office buildings, is responsible for a significant share of greenhouse-gas emissions. U.S. office buildings account for 19 percent of commercial energy use – 70 percent of that being for electricity.
A number of companies are already taking the lead toward greener buildings. The new 48-story Condé Nast building in New York’s Times Square, for instance, saves $500,000 in energy costs each year thanks to energy efficient technologies like compact fluorescent lighting, clean-burning furnaces, roof-top solar cells, and super-insulated windows. The energy savings will pay off the cost of the efficiency measures in 5 years.
In 1997, Kinko’s began outfitting new stores with energy-efficient lighting, and retrofitted more than 1,000 existing stores. The company, a member of WRI’s Green Power Market Development Group, also buys almost 8 million kilowatt hours a year of green power generated by renewable sources of energy, like wind and solar. “As a result of our physical footprint and the nature of our business, Kinko’s has the potential to leave a substantial impact on the environment,” said Gary Kusin, Kinko’s president and CEO.
In 1999, WRI committed to reducing emissions from its new Washington, DC office to “net zero.” Through a series of energy conservation measures, WRI was able to reduce emissions by more than 11 percent by using energy efficient lighting, heating, and air conditioning.
In addition, WRI bought emissions credits – paying for a school in Portland, Oregon to upgrade its aging heating system – to “offset” its emissions in 2000. The organization’s offset purchase helped the school replace its oil-fired boiler with a more efficient natural gas system.