While LEED Platinum ratings are still relatively rare for green buildings, design software developer Adobe Systems not only has earned one of them -- it just scored its ninth.
Platinum is the highest designation that someone can claim for a building under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) initiative. The latest one being claimed by Adobe is under the Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance system; it covers the Adobe building in Seattle, which is a 164,000-square-foot single-tenant building.
When I spoke with the buildings facilities manager, Mike Gilmore, about the factors that went into the designation, he said one critical element of Adobe's ability to earn the Platinum rating was its decision to submeter the electricity usage in the building. That is significant because Adobe doesn't own the building for which it received the rating, but it undertook the building management system that allowed this anyway and added 30 submeters. "We had no visibility into how much electricity we were using ... So we picked where we knew the heaviest loads would be," Gilmore said.
Incidentally, it IS harder to submeter a multitenant building, but Adobe did manage to do it for its building in Sydney, Australia, which helped it better manage electricity consumption there, too.
Other factors helping for the rating were the installation of new software to allow energy usage monitoring and the replacement of building lighting controls and incandescent light bulbs, which has helped with an 18.5 percent reduction in electricity usage. Adobe has also added EvapoTranspiration technology that allows Adobe to better control water consumption. (There has been a 59 percent reduction in water usage for irrigation needs since that technology was installed.)
Mike Bangs, director of global facility operations for Adobe, which is based in San Jose, Calif., says that the company's goal isn't necessarily to be "greener." Rather, it is "to operate buildings as effectively as possible within the boundaries of our responsibilities as officers of the company."
Aside from the Seattle facility, other Adobe buildings that are LEED Platinum include the Adobe headquarters buildings in San Jose and its building in San Francisco. Indeed, the San Jose buildings were just recertified in 2010. (LEED ratings are not permanent, because buildings change over time.)