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11 biz headquarters that snagged LEED Platinum status (photos)

There are now hundreds of sites certified under the highest level of the U.S. Green Building's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). This gallery represents almost a dozen examples of corporate headquarters sites to be recognized as Platinum by the program.
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Topic: Innovation
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Located in Milford, Ohio, the corporate headquarters site for energy company Melink is not only one of the few LEED Platinum buildings in the state, it has managed to achieve net-zero status. The 30,000-square-foot facility upgraded its status from Gold through the addition of roof-mounted and ground-mounted solar photovoltaic technology and wind power. It maximizes daylight and includes R-19 insulation, a roof membrane with R-30 insulation and high-performance exterior windows. All of those features contribute to its net-zero status, achieved in 2011. (Photo courtesy of Melink.)

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The Portland-based non-profit group, Mercy Corps, spent $37 million to renovate and add to a historic 1892 building that initially served as a wholesale grocery distribution facility. The 80,000-square-foot building boasts solar panels, a green roof and natural ventilation as elements of its Platinum designation. The project was financed by a combination of a capital campaign, tax credits and grants, according to the organization. (Photo courtesy of Mercy Corps)

 
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This 12-story, 350,000-square-foot building in Cambridge, Mass., that houses biotechnology company Genzyme (recently acquired by Sanofi-Aventis) snagged LEED Platinum status very early on -- back in September 2005. At that time, it was the largest corporate office building to hold the rating. The glass exterior and central atrium allow for oodles of daylight, while heliostat mirrors track the sun and direct even more daylight into the interior spaces. The plumbing reduces water consumption by 34 percent compared with a "typical" building, while energy costs are estimated at 42 percent less. (Photo by Anton Grassi)

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Located in Des Moines, the 825,000-square-foot headquarters of Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the largest LEED Platinum building in the worldwide -- as of March 2011. Compared with similar buildings, the Wellmark headquarters saves about 20 percent in energy costs and 50 percent in overall waster use. Among the technologies that the company used to earn its LEED Platinum points are daylight harvesting, low-flow water fixtures and a rainwater capture system, and under-the-floor airflow processes. Through 2010, Wellmark reported that its administrative savings from the facility were at least $10 million; it expects to realize another $10 million in savings over the next two to three years. (Photo courtesy of Wellmark)

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Real estate development firm The Tower Companies began creating green buildings more than 14 years ago, so it makes sense that its headquarters in Rockville, Md., would subscribe to this principle. Among the elements that helped the site earn Platinum recognition: A heating, air-conditioning and ventilation (HVAC) system that is 30 percent more efficient that a typical office building's; a four-stage air-filtration process that uses 30 percent more outside air; and an interior design scheme in which 90 percent of the occupants have an outdoor view. Approximately 80 percent of the electric equipment in the facility is Energy Star-rated. (Photography by Ron Blunt, courtesy of Tower)

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The 55-story, 2.1-million-square-feet Bank of America headquarters tower in New York City was the first commercial skyscraper to earn the Platinum designation back in May 2010. Designed by Cook + Fox Architects, it uses a high-performance glass curtain wall to maximize sunlight within the interior while keeping out excessive heat. A cogeneration plant an ice storage system help cut down on peak energy usage, while the tower reuses almost all of the rainwater and sink water captured by its water conservation systems. (Photo courtesy of Bank of America)

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The Silver Spring, Md., headquarters of media company Discovery Communications was the first building in Maryland to receive any sort of LEED recognition three years ago when it snagged a Platinum rating. Elements of its green building strategy include an extensive system of rainwater capture and reuse, automated scheduling of heating, air-conditioning and ventilation (HVAC) services during off-peak hours, thorough recycling initiatives, and heavy use of carbon offsets and wind power renewable energy certificates. The design of the building has helped Discovery save more than 24,000 gallons of water annually and reduce carbon emissions by more than 260 tons annually. (Photo courtesy of Discovery Communications)

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It takes 85 points to earn the LEED Platinum designation for existing buildings, and the headquarters for Armstrong World Industries in Lancaster, Penn., managed to gather 64. The three-story, 126,000-square-foot building was originally constructed in 1998. A main focus of the project was decreasing water usage; along the way, the team discovered an equipment malfunction wasting more than 28,000 gallons of water annually. The processes and systems embraced during the LEED certification process cut the building's use of potable water almost in half from 800,000 gallons to 420,000 gallons. Other contributors were an automation system and the purchase of 2 million kilowatt-hours of wind power each year (75 percent of the project's electricity use). (Photo courtesy of Armstrong World Industries)

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Even if your organization leases space for its headquarters, you could focus on earning a LEED Platinum designation for Commercial Interiors. That was the strategy of energy company Exelon, which earned the rating for its 10 floors of space in Chicago's Chase Tower. Energy-efficiency measures include a system that dims lights in the daytime, extensive use of Energy Star technologies, and task lighting for individual employees. The current space uses 43 percent less energy than the company's previous digs. Approximately one-third of the furniture in the office was refurbished from other locations, and three-quarters of the construction waste was recycled. (Photo courtesy of Exelon)

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The Platinum certification covering Johnson Controls' 33-acre campus in Glendale, Wisc., represents the largest concentration of Platinum buildings in one location (a total of four). The project involved retrofits of two existing structures and the construction of two new ones. The grounds include 1,452 solar photovoltaic panels with an energy generation capacity of 250 kilowatts. A key to the certification was the installation of geothermal heat pumps that help reduce heating cost for this cold-weather campus by up to 29 percent. In the summer, they help reduce chiller operating costs by 23 percent. Skylights are widely used for natural daylight harvesting and a 30,000-gallon cistern rainwater capture system has helped reduce the use of potable water on the campus by 77 percent. (Photo courtesy of Johnson Controls)

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The West Tower of software developer Adobe Systems' headquarters in San Jose, Calif., was awarded a LEED Platinum designation for Existing Buildings in June 2006. There were 45 separate projects initiated on the way to that rating. The impact? Adobe reduced electricity by 35 percent, cut domestic water use by 22 percent, and decreased irrigation water use by 76 percent. The company is recycling or composting up to 95 percent of the solid waste at the site. Technologies that have contributed to these results include variable speed drives in air-conditioning and chiller equipment, waterless urinals, motion activate soap and water in restrooms, and real-time electric meters that more closely monitor and adjust power consumption. Adobe recently received its 10th LEED Platinum designation. (Photo courtesy of Adobe Systems)

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