Toyota's Green Giant The automaker brings the hybrid car mentality home with its California sales campus, one of the largest enviro-friendly construction projects ever completed in the United States.
By Alex Lash

(Business 2.0) – Having a green office means more than just recycling your memos and turning off your computer at the end of the day. As Toyota proves with its new $87 million sales campus, environmentalism starts from the ground up--and extends all the way to the solar panels on the roof. The 624,000-square-foot facility, which opened last April in Torrance, Calif., is the largest corporate construction project ever awarded a gold rating by the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit consortium of architects, urban planners, corporations, and environmentalists. Only five buildings have ever received the council's platinum award: four environmental science facilities and an office building in India. But Toyota came close, thanks to touches like refueling stations for hydrogen cars and one of the largest commercial solar power systems in North America. Here's how the company went the extra mile to avoid guzzling our natural resources. -- ALEX LASH

1 Bare bones

More than 250 miles of reinforced steel in the building's framework came mostly from recycled cars.

2 Pipe dreams

By using recycled water for landscaping, cooling towers, and toilets, plus a number of chemically treated waterless urinals, Toyota expects to save 11 million gallons of potable water a year.

3 Plant life

To conserve even more H2O, Toyota landscaped using only drought-resistant native plants, but splurged on a fountain at the front entrance.

4 Fresh air

That "new car" smell isn't necessarily a good thing, so Toyota used recycled carpet and other low-emitting materials to avoid "off-gassing" of chemicals from new fabrics and plastics.

5 Sun strokes

The 53,000 square feet of solar panels generate up to 536 kilowatts--enough to power 500 homes--and should pay for themselves in seven years.

6 Waste not

During construction, 95 percent of all waste was recycled or reused. Concrete slabs used as casts for building walls were later crushed to pave the parking lots.