Toyota Takes the LEED in Texas

Toyota Headquarters Campus Achieves LEED Platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council, The Largest Commercial LEED Platinum Project in The State Of Texas, To Date

Plano, Texas (Sept. 22, 2017) – Everything is bigger in Texas. Everything, that is, except Toyota’s environmental footprint. 

Toyota Motor North America’s (TMNA) headquarters campus in Plano, Texas has officially achieved LEED Platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Jonathan Kraatz, executive director, USGBC Texas Chapter, presented the prized Platinum plaque to Jim Lentz, TMNA president and chief executive officer, today at the new campus. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Toyota’s new campus is the largest commercial LEED Platinum project in the state of Texas, to date.


“At Toyota, we have a longstanding commitment to sustainability and preserving our natural resources,” said Lentz. “With the installation of greenspaces, thousands of solar panels, a massive rain water capture system, and natural light wells, we have designed our new headquarters to reflect the local habitat and enhance its biodiversity. Recognition as a LEED Platinum facility is a testament of our efforts to become a model for energy efficiency and sustainability, and speaks to our challenge to ourselves to create a net positive impact on the planet by 2050.”

“USGBC is proud to award LEED Platinum to Toyota, for their thoughtfulness in their campus energy planning and space design as well as the overall net positive impact on the community and environment,” said Kraatz. “Our mission at USGBC has challenged organizations to move faster and reach further than ever before, and Toyota’s new Texas campus is a great example of what can be accomplished with the right leadership.”


The state-of-the-art, 100-acre campus boasts a Platinum-sized list of sustainability aspects, from renewable energy to drought resistant landscaping:  

Renewable Energy

Largest onsite corporate solar installation among non-utility companies in Texas

8.79-Megawatt solar power system, designed and installed by SunPower Corp.

Produces up to 33 percent of daily electric needs for headquarters campus

Reduces annual carbon dioxide emissions by 7,198 metric tons

Creates enough energy to power 1,200 average US homes for a year

Installation of high efficiency lighting and building envelopes to reduce energy usage on campus

Specialized rooftop design teeming with plant life to manage rainwater, reduce heat and further insulate the buildings

Flexible energy contract to preserve and resell excess power generation back to the grid

Grid energy offset by Texas wind farm renewable energy credits

Repurposed Rainwater

State-of-the-art rainwater capture system will provide up to three months of water supply for irrigation use

Cistern water storage with a capacity to hold 400,000 gallons of harvested rain water

Estimated to save more than 11 million gallons of potable (drinking) water annually

Excess drain water will be collected and repurposed for sanitary facility use

Recycling

More than 99 percent of the construction waste was recycled

Construction waste was sorted offsite at North Texas’ first Construction and Demolition waste processing facility

Sustainable Landscaping

Exterior landscaping features drought-tolerant, North Texas indigenous plants like savannah, oaklands and wildflower meadows

Campus landscape will provide a natural habitat for endangered pollinators and monarch butterflies

Approximately 1,300 trees planted onsite by Toyota

More than 80 mature trees saved or relocated onsite, including a 100-year-old oak tree

Landscaping will be managed without expensive mowing, fertilizers, chemicals or artificial irrigation

Historic wetlands on the northeast corner of the campus were preserved to protect its natural state


Professionals who led this project include a host of Dallas-based firms: KDC Real Estate Development & Investments to develop and build the campus, architect Corgan Associates to design the campus, and Austin Commercial to manage the construction.

In late 2015, Toyota Motor Corporation announced the 2050 Toyota Environmental Challenge, a set of ambitious environmental goals to reach beyond net zero, and create a net positive impact on the planet. To learn more, please visit http://www.toyota-global.com/sustainability/environment/challenge2050/.

 

7 small steps to start making your business more green-friendly

Customers are increasingly looking towards the companies they shop with to be more environmentally conscious, and they like to see deliberate steps being taken towards a greener status. The good news is, going green can also help you to save money and increase your productivity in some areas. Here are seven small steps you can take today for great results.

1. Change to recycled paper

You may not have a choice about whether you print things out, but you can certainly choose how you do it. Select only recycled papers to fill up your printer – you won’t notice any difference in the quality, but you will be saving forests when you do it. Be careful about the brand you select: check that you are using paper which is made from 100% recycled materials, rather than a lower percentage.

7 small steps to start making your business more green-friendly

2. Switch to environmentally-friendly lightbulbs

It doesn’t make much sense why we are still using outdated lightbulbs for our offices and homes. Eco-friendly lightbulbs last longer, use less energy and thus cost you less over time, and help the environment. Not only that, but they’re usually the same price or cheaper than the lightbulbs you normally pick out, too. This may not have been the case ten years ago, but there’s no excuse now.

3. Use bike couriers, not cars

Switching to a bike courier will do the environment a huge favour. Skipping the exhaust fumes will be fantastic for the planet as a whole and also your own particular part of it, since these fumes are often responsible for dangerous air pollution. Bike couriers are also faster, which means an extra bonus on your side – the recipient will be hugely impressed at how quickly you make the delivery. 

4. Do an energy audit

You may be able to get an energy audit done for free, but you could also start the process yourself by simply taking a look around the office. Cracks and rotten wood around window or door frames, could be allowing heat to leak out, thus costing you energy. Look around the edges of the room too, across the ceiling, and in vulnerable places. Sealing up these leaks could cut as much as 20% off your heating or cooling bill and, of course, help save the planet by using less energy.

5. Encourage car pooling

Are your employees driving in individually from the same areas? Encourage them to start car-pooling or even taking public transport. Put a rewards system in place where the eco-friendliest travellers can win goodies like a free lunch or an hour in lieu time. This will help to cut down the emissions your workplace generates overall.

6. Recycle your furniture

Next time you need to replace a chair or get a new filing cabinet, consider going vintage. Second-hand or repurposed items help the environment too. eBay and Craigslist are both great places to search for vintage or barely-used second-hand furniture that won’t cost too much. 

7. Switch to green web hosting

Where is your company website hosted? Green hosting companies pledge to use renewable energy, plant trees, or offset their carbon footprint. Voting with your wallet and switching to green hosting will be a decisive gesture, and will be a badge of honour to display on your website as well. 

Any office can go greener very easily, as these seven small steps show. Once you have completed these and seen the difference that it can make when you are more eco-friendly, you’ll be looking for ways to improve even further.

4 Tips to Reduce Energy Usage at Home

For a homeowner, reducing energy usage at home not only reduces your carbon footprint, but it also greatly reduces your energy bill. If you’re looking for ways you can start living a more “green” lifestyle or you just want to save more money, here are four tips to help you get started.

Opt for Energy-Efficient Appliances

When you think energy-efficient appliances, ENERGY STAR is the trusted label that comes to mind. Widely recognized, ENERGY STAR appliances meet the strict energy-efficient requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). When you choose ENERGY STAR appliances, you’re saving money and saving energy, all without sacrificing quality. For example, choosing an ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher is 10 percent more energy efficient, 20 percent more water efficient and will cost you $35 less annually compared to a standard dishwasher. It doesn’t stop at dishwashers, ENERGY STAR offers over 65 different products for your home ranging from lighting and appliances to consumer electronics.

Choose the Right Lights

There are a few choice when it comes to energy-efficient lighting, but light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are the way to go! Although these bulbs cost you more upfront than traditional incandcscent bulbs, they save you money in the long run, and most importantly, use less energy. Most people are aware of LED light bulbs, however, there are several other appliances and electronics that use light, like your refrigerator, microwave, security camera and television, to name a few. By choosing energy-efficient options, specifically LED, you will reduce your energy usage. For example, Lorex Technology offers several security cameras with LED lights and LED screens that are energy efficient and high quality. In addition, previously discussed ENERGY STAR appliances also utilize LED lights that are more efficient than their counterparts.

4 Tips to Reduce Energy Usage at Home

Unplug Idle Electronics

Even after shutting down the computers for the night, turning off the TV and switching off all of the lights, your electricity meter is still working hard. Nearly one-quarter of home energy use is consumed by vampires, not blood-sucking vampires, but rather devices and appliances that are still plugged in, wasting electricity even after they are switched off. The Natural Resources Defense Council and affiliates partnered to asses the impact of these vampire electronics and found that inactive devices waste about $165 per U.S. household on average, translating to approximately 50 large (500-megawatt) power plants’ worth of electricity nationwide. Unplugging these vampire electronics, or at least reducing their affects, starts with purchasing power strips that are easily flipped on and off, timers that shut down electronics when they’re not in use and turning off “quick start” options on your TV or gaming consoles so the energy grid isn’t being utilized on stand-by.

Be Smart When Heating and Cooling

Properly and efficiently insulating your home, including windows and the ceiling, cannot be emphasized enough. This will keep your home cool in the summer when you have the air conditioner on and warm in the winter with the heater running. Although you should leave insulation to professionals, the U.S. Department of Energy has great resources for where you should start if you’d like to make your home more energy efficient, while reducing energy bills. First, you need to find out how much insulation you’ll need and where it will go. This includes hiring a qualified home energy auditor to conduct an insulation check which identifies areas of your home that need to be sealed before you begin insulating.

Also, consider geothermal energy too from people like my buddies at Dandelion Energy!

Green Homes in Texas Add $25,000 Resale Value, Study Finds

Washington, D.C. – (July 11, 2017) – A new study from The University of Texas at Austin and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) finds that new homes in Texas built to meet green building standards like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the world’s most widely used green building rating system, are worth an average of $25,000 more in resale value than conventional homes. The study, “The Value of LEED Homes in the Texas Real Estate Market: A Statistical Analysis of Resale Premiums for Green Certification,” found that homes built to LEED standards between 2008-2016 showed an 8 percent boost in value, while homes built to a wider range of green standards saw a 6 percent increase in value.

“Our research shows there is a ‘green premium’ in the Texas single-family home market,” said The University of Texas at Austin’s Dr. Greg Hallman. “The average new home in our Texas MLS dataset sells for $311,000, so a 6-8% green premium represents a significant gain for home owners, developers, and real estate agents and brokers.”

The Green Homes study looked at more than 3,800 green-certified homes, including LEED-certified homes, built in Texas between 2008 and 2016 to determine if certification raised the resale value of homes. The study was conducted by the Real Estate Finance & Investment Center at The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business. It was based on an analysis of more than 230,000 homes in Texas and used a regression model taking into account interior floor area, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, garages and the age of the home, as well as whether or not homes were built according to green standards including LEED.
The Green Homes study looked at more than 3,800 green-certified homes, including LEED-certified homes, built in Texas between 2008 and 2016 to determine if certification raised the resale value of homes. The study was conducted by the Real Estate Finance & Investment Center at The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business. It was based on an analysis of more than 230,000 homes in Texas and used a regression model taking into account interior floor area, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, garages and the age of the home, as well as whether or not homes were built according to green standards including LEED.

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“As developers and buyers continue to see the value in LEED, we expect the number of LEED-certified homes to increase in the Texas market,” said Taryn Holowka, senior vice president, USGBC. “Homes that are built to meet green standards deliver more value to the seller and also ensure that buyers will have a high-value sale down the road and reap the benefit of lower utility bills while living in the home.”

LEED-certified homes benefit the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit by enhancing the health and wellbeing of occupants, saving costly environmental resources like energy and water, and providing cost savings to individual homeowners or residential building owners. On average, LEED-certified homes use 20-30 percent less energy than a home built to code, with some homes reporting up to 60 percent savings, which lowers energy costs.

The LEED Homes rating system was created in 2008 as a way for single-family homes and multi-family buildings to achieve LEED certification. LEED Homes projects undergo a technically rigorous process to become certified, including multiple on-site inspections and quality assurance. More than 1.5 million residential units are currently participating in LEED in the world. USGBC’s 2015 Green Building Economic Impact report found that the residential green construction market is expected to grow from $55 million in 2015 to $100.4 million in 2018, representing a year-over-year growth of 24.5 percent. Currently, there are more than 6,890 homes certified or pursuing LEED-certification in Texas.

To learn more about the Green Homes study, visit: https://www.usgbc.org/resources/value-leed-homes-texas-real-estate-market.

Sources: U.S. Green Building Council and the McCombs School of Business

Urban Solar awarded contract by City of Tempe for solar lighting installations

BEAVERTON, OR – Urban Solar is pleased to announce the award of a contract to supply solar powered LED lighting systems to the City of Tempe, Arizona. The 5-year contract provides increased safety for Tempe residents and transit users, with reliable solar lighting systems including a stop recognition feature.

Tempe City Council passed a master plan in 2015 to enhance safety, quality of life, and technology in its transportation systems, and selected Urban Solar to provide enhanced safety with its transit shelter lighting systems. Urban Solar won top pick for its reliable, high performance solar lighting solutions designed for the transportation industry.

Tempe City Council passed a master plan in 2015 to enhance safety, quality of life, and technology in its transportation systems, and selected Urban Solar to provide enhanced safety with its transit shelter lighting systems. Urban Solar won top pick for its reliable, high performance solar lighting solutions designed for the transportation industry.
Urban Solar’s roots are in transit-specific design, particularly with bus stops and shelters. Urban Solar provides autonomous, stand-alone off-grid systems, which reduce the need for disruptive and expensive trenching to utility poles. Urban Solar lighting products have an industry-leading warranty and are tested, listed, and audited by Underwriters Laboratories (UL); the most prestigious nationally recognized testing laboratory (NRTL) worldwide.

“Tempe, Arizona, is an extremely challenging environment,” says Urban Solar VP of Engineering and Operations, Garnet Luick. “This competitive award provides further evidence of Urban Solar’s dedication to, and understanding of, high performance and reliability in engineering solar powered LED lighting solutions.”

Sources: Tempe Transit and Urban Solar