Here at E Source, we’re really excited about all of the energy-efficiency improvements that will be part of our new office, but not all of them were our doing. Many of them were undertaken by our new landlord, who was guided in doing so by the city of Boulder’s green energy building standards. Municipal building standards help to align the interests of building occupants and owners, given that both parties often find it difficult to agree on making efficiency upgrades without such guidance. With these standards in place, we had a great base to work from in making further improvements that went above and beyond the already rigorous city requirements for building owners.
The energy-efficiency requirements for commercial buildings in Boulder stipulate that remodeling projects, like the new E Source office space, must result in a building that is 30 percent more energy efficient (PDF) than the ASHRAE 90.1 guidelines. The ASHRAE standard was originally established in 1975 and has been updated several times since. In order to meet these guidelines, we worked with the owner’s design team, which ran several simulation models in a computer program called TRACE 700, produced by Trane. The models eventually met the 30 percent savings threshold by including the following measures:
- Packaged rooftop units with a seasonal energy-efficiency rating (SEER) of 17, which is quite high
- Variable-speed control of the supply fans in the rooftop units
- High-performance glazing on all windows
- All new fluorescent lighting with T5 fixtures
Once we got to that 30 percent threshold—because we’re really into energy efficiency—we started wondering what else we could do that would go above and beyond the requirements. We ran more building simulations and did more analysis. We chose additional lighting measures such as replacing fluorescent fixtures with ones containing light-emitting diodes, installing Solatubes to let in the natural sunlight, and deploying photometric sensors to adjust lighting levels based on the availability of daylight. We’re still evaluating several nonlighting measures, but we’ve definitely decided to install condensing instantaneous water heaters.
In addition to these improvements to the building, we’re also concerned about energy impacts that go beyond our energy bill. Our new office is more centrally located within the city of Boulder to allow for improved access to sustainable transportation options such as bus routes and bike paths. E Source already encourages employees to commute to work with alternative transportation in a variety of ways—each employee receives an Eco Pass, we participate in an annual summer Bike to Work competition, and the company is planning to expand such transportation challenges throughout the year.
We’re really looking forward to having a new office space that increases our ability to work efficiently, collaborate, and promote the principles of creative sustainability that we’re committed to supporting for our members. As we make progress toward the big move, our newly formed office Green Team will be posting updates on specific features that we find especially interesting. Hopefully you can come take a tour soon!