The debate over the merits of the LEED certification program will continue as critics say the sustainability standards are too easy to achieve and don’t have enough of an impact on the environment. But when you have 37 office buildings representing 6 million square feet of office space earning the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) seal of approval all at once, it’s at least worth a nod of recognition.
The Bishop Ranch Business Park, located near San Ramon, Calif., is home to 600 businesses, with more than 30,000 employees on a 585-acre plot of land. Taken as one unit, the 37 office buildings that first began construction in the late 1970s represent more than 10 percent of all the new LEED-certified space designated by the USGBC in California during all of 2012.
By incorporating various efficient systems and maintenance policies into the operation of the Bishop Ranch properties, the campus has been able to save more than 3.5 million kilowatts of energy per year. Just by starting janitorial service in the buildings at an earlier hour in the day, the complex was able to save 384,000 kilowatts, said property owner Sunset Development Co.
Most of Bishop Ranch’s buildings are Energy Star rated and motion-sensor switches help ensure that devices are turned off when no one is using them. A “green cleaning” program also includes 100 percent non-toxic janitorial products. More than 200,000 pounds of waste was also diverted from landfills last year when cleaning crews switched from paper towels to reusable microfiber cloths.
A recycling program at Bishop Ranch reused all of the facilities’ light fixtures and 91 percent of their ceiling tiles. More than two million pounds of grass, leaves and green waste was turned into compost and 380,000 pounds of paper, glass, bottles and cans were recycled, as well as 88 tons of cardboard and 22,000 pounds of electronic waste, which was collected through a special hotline collection scheduling tool.
One of the key initiatives that help the campus earn its LEED certs is its award-winning mass-transit program. The distribution of $2 million worth of free bus passes to Bishop Ranch commuters has helped take 10,000 cars off the local roads each day, saving 15 million gallons of gas per year. More than 60 percent of cars driving to Bishop Ranch are participant in vanpool and carpool initiatives, while premium parking spots have been set aside for those who drive hybrid vehicles.