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green@work : Magazine : Newlines : Winter 2006

Actions and initiatives worth noting

Johnson Controls launches Leedspeed Software

A new software program will make it easier for companies interested in green building to reach their goals. Leedspeed™, a Web-based software application hosted at, navigates the user through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating systems, simplifying the building certification process. The software was developed by Johnson Controls, Inc., which has utilized the program in hundreds of buildings for the past three years. Johnson Controls specializes in interior experience, building efficiency and power solutions.

“Johnson Controls is the premier partner for forward-thinking companies that want to achieve the financial, social and environmental benefits of green buildings,” said Paul von Paumgartten, director of energy and environmental affairs for building efficiency at Johnson Controls. “This software program takes our best practices and helps facility owners assess multiple buildings, evaluate return on investment, manage green building projects, and prepare and submit the LEED certification application.”

He added that the timing of the new software is in line with the growing trend of corporate environmental responsibility, as businesses are starting to fully realize the power of green buildings and sustainability. “So far, more than 300 building owners have achieved LEED certification, and they’re reaping benefits such as lower operating costs, better indoor air quality, increased employee productivity and enhanced corporate or organizational image,” von Paumgartten said.

Green audits now used to save companies money

Some recent advice from the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center at the University of Louisville will save at least 250 jobs at a Leggett & Platt plant. Leggett & Platt—which has been in the Louisville area since the 1970s, and makes and paints the metal frames that wind up in reclining chairs—was poised to close down and relocate overseas due to labor and materials costs, but will remain in Kentucky thanks to the Pollution Prevention Center’s environmental advice.

The Center conducts audits of Kentucky businesses to help reduce pollution and improve energy efficiency; saving companies money is an added benefit. The cost of the audits is paid for by state grants. The Center found that by modifying a heated washing unit, energy costs at the Leggett & Platt plant would be greatly reduced. The Center also recommended that Leggett & Platt switch to a different type of paint that dried at a lower temperature; this new paint not only contains few chemical pollutants, but further reduced energy costs.

As result of the audit, Leggett & Platt stands to save about $200,000 in energy costs after spending about $2,000 to make the recommended modifications—and the plant will continue to support the nation’s economy.

Interface continues march to sustainability

Interface Fabrics recently announced its contributions to a green power initiative that will fund new solar projects in the state of Maine, while Interface Flooring Systems stated that they have achieved 100-percent renewable electricity for the production of all products in Troup County, Ga. The two announcements are the latest in a string of recent environmental initiatives from Interface, Inc.

“ Interface has raised the bar within the commercial interiors industry with renewable energy purchases, and it is important to note that we have done so with the bigger picture in mind,” said Mike Bertolucci, senior vice president of Interface, Inc., which is a charter member of the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Green Power Market Development Group and the U.S. EPA’s Green Power Partnership. “We have an obligation to help shape the future for green energy markets in the United States.”

“Our goal to become sustainable exceeds the technology available to us today,” added John Wells, president of Interface Flooring Systems. “But what we can do is invest in the growth of the green energy market, so that we support the development of clean energy sources all over the country.”

Nation’s colleges increasing green building practices

Traditionally, colleges have used perks such as a top-10 football team, famous alumni, study-abroad programs and the number of national scholars they have attending their institution to recruit new students. Now, add one more to the list: their use of green buildings. Schools across the country are increasingly touting their green credentials as a way to entice students into attending. So far, more than 110 colleges in the United States have met construction and design standards to become certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

At Portland State University’s Broadway dorm complex, the roof made up of grass, gravel and plants is not the only green characteristic.
Additionally, the mechanics of the 10-story building pump electricity and water to the 400 residents with maximum efficiency and little waste to
speak of.Students are taking note of this trend. The University of South Carolina at Columbia boasts the largest green dorm in the world—and the waiting list to live in this building is so long that since its opening in 2004, students wishing to reside here are required to write an essay explaining why.

Green buildings are not without educational merits, either. Students at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh not only study the ecosystem of the grass, dirt and insects that make the top of the living roof at Hamerschlag Hall their home, but they learn how building design can reduce stormwater drainage and improve water quality. Experts say this trend will continue to grow.

Wausau Paper adds Earth-friendliness to its paper line

Wausau Paper recently announced the addition of Exact DigitalTM, an environmentally sensible line of coated and uncoated digital paper, to its line of printing and writing papers.

Exact Digital high-brightness papers—specially formulated for optimal performance in digital printing applications including copiers, inkjet and laser printers, and commercial digital presses—are acid-free and lignin-free, and contain 30 percent post-consumer fiber.

“Our customers indicated a preference for a bright line of digital papers that features significant recycled fiber content,” said Thomas J. Howatt, president and CEO of Wausau. “This new line reflects our key growth strategy of providing value-added products.”

Backed by Wausau Paper’s Performance Guarantee, Exact Digital papers are stocked in all of the company’s regional warehouses, making the product available to environmentally conscious businesses within 24 hours to most locations throughout the United States. To learn more, visit

Pataki aiming to reduce petroleum use

In the state of New York, there are more than 200,000 vehicles in operation that have the ability to run on corn-based ethanol fuel rather than gasoline—but most owners of these flex-fuel vehicles are unaware of this ability (see page 20 to read more). And those that do know are out of luck, as the nearest station to the state of New York that carries ethanol is in Ottawa. But N.Y. Gov. George Pataki (R) wants this to change, and is planning to make ethanol and biodiesel fuels available in the 27 service stations on the New York Thruway and in 100 more stations throughout the state. If he has his way, the changes could come as early as this year.

This plan could put New York at the forefront of alternative-fuel use as the only other state beside Minnesota that utilizes an ethanol fuel blend known as E85 (85 percent ethanol). Nationwide, biodiesel is found in only a few hundred of the country’s stations.

Since its inception, E85 has become a strong competitor to gasoline due to its price. In Iowa, E85 has been selling for $1.73 per gallon, as opposed to $2.19 per gallon for gasoline. The lowered cost of E85 is due in part to subsidies received for its use.

Not all vehicles on the road can utilize flex fuels. Consumers can find out if their car has this capability by cross-checking their car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) against a database found at
American motorists embracing hybrids

In 2005, Toyota sold 107,897 of its hybrid Prius models in the United States alone—double the amount of Hummers sold. And now other automobile manufacturers are looking to capitalize on this growing trend as well.

Alongside the hybrid Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner (a Ford subsidy), Ford is looking to introduce a concept vehicle that combines a diesel engine with an electric motor. If this model goes into production, it would be the first hybrid to use diesel rather than gasoline. Piggybacking on the success of Toyota, Ford expects to sell 250,000 hybrids by the year 2010 by making the hybrid option available on up to half of its fleet.

Not to be outdone, Chevrolet expects a hybrid Tahoe for 2008 and Saturn is looking to release the Vue Green Line Hybrid in 2007. The most impressive appears to be Audi’s seven-passenger SUV hybrid that boasts a 350-horsepower, V8 engine that can accelerate from zero to 60 in 6.8 seconds. Although fuel savings won’t be nearly that of smaller vehicles, Audi hybrid SUV owners can still look forward to a 13-percent fuel-cost reduction.

There are considerations to purchasing a hybrid. The initial cost of the car is generally higher, batteries need to be replaced, and they still have deficiencies as a long- distance vehicle. These costs and inconveniences are offset by the many benefits. In addition to cost savings at the pump, hybrid owners also receive tax incentives, a virtually silent motor while driving in the city, and the knowledge that their vehicle is helping to greatly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

Hybrid school buses look to be on U.S. roads in two years

The State Technolo-gies Advancement Collaborative (STAC) recently announced that it will fund the Advanced Energy’s Hybrid Electric School Bus (HESB) project with $840,000—which will help put the United States two years away from seeing cleaner, more fuel-efficient buses on highways. The project is one of 11 to receive funding as part of the Energy Efficiency, Research, Demonstration, Deployment and Rebuild America Projects Solicitation. The 11 projects are valued at $11.5 million and cover five technical areas.

Advanced Energy’s HESB project offers many significant benefits for improving the air quality of North Carolina and the United States. The project will help further the development and commercialization of plug-in hybrid vehicle technology and, if appropriate, promote the adoption of plug-in hybrid school buses throughout the country.

“STAC’s funding will be used to help purchase 20 hybrid electric school buses from one of three major bus manufacturers,” said Ewan Pritchard, HESB program manager. “We look to have these buses on the road within two years. These buses will run in 11 states throughout the country.”

STAC funding also makes it possible for the project to gather operational data from buses running in school districts around the country, and provide an updated economic feasibility study with real-world data.

STAC is a five-year pilot program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and directed by an executive committee. The committee includes representatives from the National Association of State Energy Officials, the Association of State Energy Research and Technology Transfer Institutions, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and the Office of Fossil Energy and an independent member.

For more information about the Hybrid Electric School Bus project, visit

 Equitrac Joins with National Arbor Day Foundation

As part of a unique program to help educational institutions reduce wastefuland unnecessary printing, Plantation, Fla.-based Equitrac will donate a native tree for planting through The National Arbor Day Foundation for every college or university administrator or IT professional who views a brief presentation about Equitrac Express, Equitrac’s higher education print-tracking and cost recovery solution, and registers online at through April 1.

“ We believe it’s important to promote tree planting as a meansof improving air quality and conserving water and soil resources, and that’s why we’re pleased to be partnering with The National Arbor Day Foundation,” said Michael Rich, CEO of Equitrac, which specializes in intelligent cost recovery and print management solutions.

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