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Climate change pushes some companies to go green

Lucas Mearian | April 30, 2013
Severe weather shifts are forcing companies to rethink their energy strategies; they're using both technology and geography to become more energy independent.

The new $800 million data center is situated on 64 acres and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2014. When it is, instead of a water-cooled air conditioning system, the facility will use an indirect evaporative cooling system, which draws in the cool outside air and exchanges it for the heat inside the server rooms, according to Jim Bailey, chief development officer for T5 Data Centers.

The cooling units can reduce electrical costs by as much as 25%, Bailey said.

T5 has public data centers in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Portland, Ore. and Kings Mountain, N.C.

The Colorado Springs building will be LEED certified. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a voluntary program that provides third-party verification of green buildings. Building are rated on a 136-point scale according to how green and sustainable they are.

Bailey said T5 has been using all local materials to build the facility and has been recycling throughout the process. LEED certification also requires roofs be painted with a light color to reflect heat from the sun. T5's roof will be painted white.

One green technology T5 hasn't invested in is solar power. Bailey said the cost of solar power works to reduce costs for areas where the electricity rates are high, such as New Jersey and New York, but not so much in places like North Carolina, where it's between 3.8 to 5 cents a kilowatt hour.

"It works where you're paying 13 cents per kilowatt hour," he said.

One building that has gone all out to use solar power, as well as rain, is the Bullitt Center in Seattle.

A "living" building

Last Monday -- Earth Day -- the Seattle-based non-profit Bullitt Foundation announced the completion of its self-sustainable building, which gets all of its power and water from Mother Nature.

The office building, which is now leasing space, was built with no toxic materials and produces no waste, according to Denis Hayes, president the Bullitt Foundation.

The Bullitt Building under construction

The six-story, 50,000 square-foot building, located at the intersection of Capitol Hill and the Central District in Seattle, was created to meet the goals of the Living Building Challenge, a green building certification program developed by the International Living Future Institute.

For example, a rooftop solar array generates as much electricity as the building uses, and rainwater is collected on the roof and directed into an underground cistern; all wastewater is treated onsite.

A look down on the Bullitt Building as its roof-top solar panels are being installed

All "grey water" from sinks in the building is filtered through a green roof, where plants use the water. Pavement around the building is permeable, allowing water to infiltrate into the soil in order to reduce the impact of runoff into the nearby Puget Sound.


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