Ecology and Environment, Inc. has achieved an 80-percent reduction in annual carbon emissions associated with building energy use at its global headquarters in Lancaster, N.Y. This is an accomplishment achieved over a nine-year period, and with a building previously certified as LEED-EB Platinum.
LANCASTER, N.Y., October 5, 2009—Ecology and Environment, Inc., (NASDAQ: EEI) announced today that it has achieved an 80-percent reduction in annual carbon emissions associated with building energy use at its global headquarters in Lancaster, N.Y. The company's achievement--accomplished in just nine years--is the result of a series of measures, targeted toward not only infrastructure improvements but the direct engagement of employees in energy efficiency, that have also netted hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings.
"Climate change experts have been debating the crucial need for carbon footprint reduction over the past 25 years, and are recommending an 83-percent reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050," said E & E president and CEO Kevin Neumaier. "Based on our experience this goal is not only achievable, but if done right will foster an economic gain. Without enough data and real world examples, some fear that greenhouse gas reduction initiatives will cripple the world economy. E & E's experience over the past 9 years is that there is a path to meeting global targets, and it provides great ROI."
Efforts implemented between the baseline year of 1999 and 2008 specifically enabled the company to achieve a 37 percent (12,000-ccf) reduction in natural gas usage and 23 percent (198,000-kWh) reduction in electricity usage. Furthermore, comparing associated upfront costs of approximately $58,000 for energy conservation measures plus $20,000 for the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (low-impact wind and hydro power) with an estimated $310,000 in energy cost savings from 1999 to 2008, the company saved approximately $232,000 over the nine-year period. Based on current energy costs, E & E additionally estimates annual savings of $43,000 relative to energy costs that would have been accrued prior to implementing its energy conservation measures.
E & E employed a variety of GHG reduction methods that contributed to this achievement, including the development of GreenMeter® (greenmeter.com), a "real-time" energy consumption tracking and management system designed to identify energy efficiency opportunities. In addition to developing the system, E & E installed a GreenMeter monitor in the lobby of its headquarters, allowing both employees and visitors to readily view building energy use data throughout the day.
"Actively engaging our employees in this effort was critical to our success," said Neumaier. "We did everything from post reminders about turning off unnecessary lighting and equipment, to implement an energy efficiency program that showed documented results, through GreenMeter, of how their conservation efforts were making a real and direct impact. This not only kept the momentum going, it contributed to a long-term behavioral and cultural shift among our employees. Our experience suggests that organizations the world over stand to gain as we have when they address not only the technical operations of their building, but the involvement of their most important asset—their people."
Combined with behavioral changes, other energy conservation efforts included replacement of all incandescent lighting with fluorescent lighting (CFLs and low-mercury T8 lamping) and purchasing ENERGY STAR®-rated kitchen and office equipment. E & E also retrofitted air-handling unit fans with variable-speed drives (VSDs), installed a Building Automation System (BAS) with direct digital controls (DDC), optimized air handling unit (AHU) scheduling by matching run times to building occupancy requirements, and optimized natural air circulation through a company-wide e-mail notification system for opening and closing windows.
According to Neumaier, the cost savings associated with these efforts should not be ignored: "Our experience in fostering sustainable development across the globe belies the economic crisis some predict greenhouse gas reduction efforts will create," he said. "Like the thousands of worldwide project we're working on, we are committed to reducing any negative environmental impact associated with the operation of our headquarters, and have found that focusing on sustainability is not only good environmentally, but also economically."
Built in 1986, E & E's 64,000-square-foot headquarters building is the world's oldest LEED® Platinum-certified structure under the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) rating system. Thus, the company's 80-percent GHG reduction accomplishment is magnified by the fact that it began focused energy efficiency efforts in 1999 with a building already achieving better-than-average energy efficiency.
"This is not only a testament to the fact that others can most certainly follow our lead, but that further efforts can be made within even today's ‘greenest' buildings," Neumaier said.
When E & E first set forth to construct its global headquarters more than 20 years ago, it was not with the hope of achieving a particular rating or certification, but with the intention of implementing building design methods that "just made sense" over the long haul. Efforts to maximize daylighting and fresh air intake, use 100 percent green electricity, select post-consumer building materials whenever possible, and incorporate indoor plant life were all guided by the company's founders, and their belief in executing the same principles and practices that E & E recommends to its environmental consulting clients.
"Construction on our headquarters building began in 1986, long before the existence of organizations like the U.S. Green Building Council, and certainly before sustainable building guidelines like LEED existed in the United States," said Neumaier. "The company's aim was thus purely to build a structure that, as much as possible, would harmonize with--and not battle against--nature."
In addition to low water-use fixtures, green energy sourcing and post-consumer products such as its carpet tiles, the building features a 300-foot long atrium with more than 1,000 plants that thrive indoors, and a glass ceiling that can be opened to allow entry of fresh air. These are in addition to windows throughout the building that can also be opened, which is an unusual feature for a typical commercial structure.
"Working windows were an imperative design feature, despite advisement that this was ‘just not done' in a commercial construction project," Neumaier explained. "Knowing it would make such a difference to work morale - and the overall health and well-being of the workforce - to be able to circulate large volumes of fresh air during the temperate months, we had to insist."
The construction site itself, formerly considered as the location for the new Buffalo Bills' stadium, was selected for its diverse natural habitats, including a wetland complex and riparian habitat that E & E wanted to preserve. Presently, the 125 acres on which the company's headquarters sits includes a combination of patch, corridor, matrix and edge habitats. The habitat quality around the facility supports a significant number of flora and fauna, including 150 types of plants, 172 bird species and an abundance of mammal and amphibian species. These include 20 species of concern and 25 native species which were reintroduced by E & E in an ongoing effort to enhance the quality of the existing habitats. In addition, the company utilizes its grounds to participate in the Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program for marsh birds and amphibians.
"Over the years we have made improvements to the habitats that have furthered their flourishing," Neumaier said, "while also enhancing symbiotic balances to achieve things like natural pest and noxious weed management, food and cover for nesting wildlife, and the attraction of new animal species like the Northern Leopard frog, Bobolink, Gray fox and Northern Saw-whet owl."
Combined with other elements including a company-wide recycling effort, designated parking spaces for carpoolers, and a system of nature trails for employees, the headquarters site and structure earned a title in 2008 as the oldest LEED Platinum-certified building under the USGBC's LEED-EB rating system.
"As part of the LEED Green Building Rating System™ procedure, our headquarters was reviewed in a stringent third-party verification process that examined five key areas of human and environmental health," Neumaier said, "which included sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. With very minor modifications, the building we'd had in place for 20 years at that point was able to meet all criteria in these categories, making it the oldest building to retroactively receive the USGBC's highest LEED Platinum certification."
With its headquarters building and as a company overall, E & E continues to model that "green" is not only possible, it can also be prosperous. Recently recognized as one of 2009's "FSB 100" Top 100 Fastest-Growing Companies by Fortune Small Business, E & E has also experienced significant gains as the world market continues to accelerate its sustainability practices.
"In 2008, during one of the bleakest years in the stock market's history, we managed to achieve a 40-percent earnings increase in the fourth quarter," Neumaier stated. "This speaks loud and clear to the way the green economy is flourishing, and the role we continue to play within it."
To learn more about E & E's sustainability initiatives, visit www.ene.com and download the company's recently published 2008 corporate sustainability report.
About E & E
Headquartered in Lancaster, N.Y., Ecology and Environment, Inc. has completed more than 45,000 projects for a wide variety of clients in 84 countries, providing environmental solutions in nearly every ecosystem on our planet. The company is listed on the NASDAQ under the symbol EEI and is located on the web at www.ene.com.
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