The Greenest Office in America
Adobe has turned its headquarters into a towering example of environmentalism - and is saving millions of dollars in the process.
By Jeff Nachtigal, Business 2.0 Magazine

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- An employee at Adobe Systems e-mailed Randy Knox III in April, wondering if the individual coffee creamers in company break rooms were more wasteful than one big container. For Knox, Adobe's director of real estate, facilities, and security, the tiny detail warranted immediate action. Adobe is now conducting research to determine which type of containers will produce the least waste.

"With the help of 5,500 employees, we manage to find these kinds of things," Knox says.

Photo GallerylaunchSee more photos

(See how the greenest office in America works.)

The coffee creamers are just one example of the massive enviro-friendly overhaul under way at Adobe (Charts). In June the $2 billion software maker became the first company to receive a platinum award from the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council under its current Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. (An Environmental Protection Agency building was rated platinum under the pilot program.)

That makes Adobe's San Jose headquarters the greenest corporate building on record in the United States. Even more impressive is that Adobe earned the honor by retrofitting its existing office towers (about 1 million square feet); most of the 151 buildings that have received the council's gold rating are new structures.

By installing everything from motion detectors to waterless urinals, Adobe has reduced its electricity use by 35 percent and its gas consumption by 41 percent since 2001, at the same time that its headcount has swelled 80 percent.

More important, Adobe is proving that building green isn't just good corporate citizenship; it's plain good business. To date, the company has invested about $1.1 million in 45 energy-efficiency projects, yielding nearly $1 million in annual savings, including about $350,000 in energy rebates.

"This isn't some pie-in-the-sky kind of thing the enviros are pushing," Knox says. "It really works."

Next: View the gallery to see examples of how Adobe saved green by going green.

Jeff Nachtigal is a writer based in Bakersfield, Calif.

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