Tag Archives: energy efficiency

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Rico Quirindongo, DKA Architecture/Seattle

In 2012 we kicked off a session on emerging leaders. This isn’t your average, “how to work with Millennials” panel. We’re digging into culture shifts as new leaders take the reigns, driving the adoption of a sustainable economy in new and exciting ways. Stay tuned for more spotlights from the next generation of green leaders.  

Rico Quirindongo HeadshotRico Quirindongo looks at his purpose as an architect a bit differently then some might expect — he puts people first, designing structures that not only serve the needs of the community, but also allow for greater engagement with building systems. That space for engagement also sets the foundation for behavior change and culture shift that comes from emergent systems. In our Emerging Leader Spotlight, Rico tells us how we can make our buildings greener and significantly improve our communities in the process.

GoGreen Conference: Has the role of the building changed over the past 100 years? Or is it us that has changed? 

Rico Quirindongo:  It has less to do with the role of the building and more to do changing role of the design team and/or the building owner as they create and maintain a structure. What role does a building play? Continue reading

GoGreen ’11 Phoenix Green Line Series: Carolyn Bristo on Phoenix’s Legacy of Conservation + Resources For Today

The City of Phoenix has a legacy of conservation—it’s had to. Building and maintaining a major metropolitan area in the desert takes complex infrastructure and smart management of resources. That’s something the city has been doing for 50 years. Looking ahead, Phoenix expects more growth and is taking measures to ensure that growth is sustainable, both from an economic standpoint and an environmental one. In this installment of the Green Line Series, City of Phoenix Sustainability Officer, Carolyn Bristo, merges past and present, with a vision for a very green future in the desert.

GoGreen Conference: What is your vision for a sustainable Phoenix? How is the City working to make Phoenix the most sustainable city in the country?
Carolyn Bristo: The end game, for the City, is always to ensure our residents have a high quality of life, now and in the future. The main spheres of influence that we’re concerned about are community, economy and the environment.

GG: Are there any elements—renewable energy, sustainable mass transit, etc.—that are key focus points for the City as you move forward?
CB: The areas you mentioned are very important to us. Because they involve complex planning, we have set stages of goals and priorities around these areas. One is that 15 percent of our energy needs will be met by renewables by 2025. Another is that our greenhouse gas emission levels will be 5 percent below the 2005 levels by 2015. We also have a goal that we will achieve 20 percent average shade canopy coverage at all city parks by 2030.

These are just some of the goals that we’ve set, and we’re working with our communities and agencies to prioritize values around neighborhood development. They’re outlined in Mayor Gordon’s 17-point Green Phoenix Plan that focuses on greening Phoenix neighborhoods, homes and businesses. That plan looks at energy sources and transit, but also waterways, efficiency measures, homegrown agriculture, urban mobility, transportation synergy, etc.

GG: How important is it to have buy in from the top levels of city leadership in Phoenix?
CB: We’re very fortunate at the City of Phoenix to have visionary leaders in our history that have fostered a culture of innovation and outstanding environmental stewardship for almost 50 years. We’ve implemented many ground-breaking initiatives over that time. We were one of the first adopters of using recycled tires in our asphalt and that started in the 1960s. We developed a water conservation plan over 30 years ago and we’re actually using less water now than we were in 1997. We have also had an energy efficiency and conservation program for over 30 years and have quantified over $120 million in cost savings or avoidance over that time. Today we are looking at how we can buffet our environmental sustainability legacy, get to the next level and achieve our goals over the next decade.

Finally, we have embarked upon a update process for the City’s general plan that will certainly focus a lot more on community well-being and sustainable economic development in the near future.

GG: How does Mayor Gordon’s Green Phoenix Plan specifically support the development of sustainable businesses in Phoenix?
CB: Much of the Green Phoenix Plan focuses on partnership and collaboration. The community and economic development part of the plan is very important. One of our key programs is called Energize Phoenix and the goal of that is to create a higher level of building stock and neighborhoods by making them more energy efficient. Our goal is to enhance 30 million square feet of office space through energy efficiency upgrades along the 10-mile stretch of the light rail corridor.

That’s just one example of the many programs we’re putting forth as a collaborative effort between the business community and the City. Another very successful partnership with the business community is the Solar Phoenix program. This program is for residential upgrades, but this program could not have happened without financing from National Bank of Arizona and working in close concert with Arizona Public Service, our public utility in Phoenix. We also needed a well-qualified work force to install the upgrades. So far, with a $25 million investment, they’ve been able to install solar on 444 homes and have generated over 2,800 kilowatt-hours of solar energy. Through leveraging the investment of our private sector and the dedication of our public utility to advance renewable energy, we’ve created one of the largest residential solar programs in the nation.

GG: How does the City of Phoenix ensure the viability of water as a resource moving forward, as the metro area grows and expands? Are there ways for businesses to better manage this shared resource in partnership with the City?
CB: The City has an aggressive water conservation program and has worked extensively with businesses to manage our water for decades now. We have a long established set of best practices that the community works under, including reusing 90 percent of our waste water for industrial, agricultural and recreational purposes. That infrastructure is a huge support for our parks and golf courses.

We’ve also reduced ground water usage from approximately 35 percent of the water supply in 1984 to less than three percent in 2010. And we continue to promote water efficiency and re-use programs through new commercial and residential plumbing codes. We recently passed a voluntary Green Building Code to encourage building green through commercial code, which ties into efficiency as well.

GG: Are there any public/private partnerships that have been particularly successful that you could highlight for us?
CB: There have been several that come to mind through our Energize Phoenix program. We worked with many local businesses, including CB Richard Ellis, American Cleaning Systems, Nibblers Catering and Hines GS to upgrade commercial facilities through our grant program and incentives, make their space more efficient and save them money in operating costs—as well as conserve resources. Businesses interested in the program can learn more at the program website: energizephx.com

Carolyn Bristo is the Sustainability Officer at the City of Phoenix and will speak on the Overcoming Barriers to Sustainability panel session at GoGreen ’11 Phoenix, November 15. To learn more about the City’s resources for businesses wanting to go green, come see Carolyn live at GoGreen ’11 Phoenix! Event details and registration can be found here. For the latest event announcements and sustainability news, follow us on Twitter (@GoGreenConf) and be a fan on Facebook (facebook.com/gogreenconference). Join the GoGreen Phoenix email list here






GoGreen ’11 Phoenix Green Line Series: Al Halvorsen Talks Efficiency + Making BHAGs Happen

You might be wondering just what in the world a “BHAG” is—never fear. Al Halvorsen, Senior Director of Sustainability at Frito-Lay North America is just the guy to tell you all about them. Accomplishing BHAGS—or “big, hairy, audacious goals”—is Al and his team’s specialty. In just over a decade they’ve fundamentally changed the way Frito-Lay does business by integrating sustainable best practices into the corporate culture and operations. In this Green Line Series Interview, Al tells us how they turned their BHAGs into reality and saved the company millions in the process.

GoGreen Conference: When did sustainability and efficient energy use hit Frito-Lay’s radar and what was the initial motivation for the company to get started in this? Did it come from the employees at the grassroots level or was it something the leadership embarked on from the top?
Al Halvorsen: We started with a program back in 1993 when we created green teams in all of our facilities. The primary responsibility of those green teams was to ensure the environmental compliance position of our manufacturing facilities was met. But out of that initiative came a focus on resource conservation as well as environmental compliance.

Officially, Frito-Lay created our own department of energy in 1999. At the time, we were focusing mostly on energy efficiency and water efficiency—plus helping to drive costs out of the system and improve the bottom line results of our manufacturing operations. We set some pretty aggressive goals in ’99 to shoot for drastic energy reductions and we put a team in place alongside our global productivity initiatives.

GG: You’ve achieved those original goals for the most part. Have your sustainability initiatives been profitable as well as socially responsible? Do you find that sustainability and profitability can be uttered in the same sentence?
AH: Yes, absolutely. So your first question was about profitability— and I would say that our sustainability initiatives have been very profitable. Back in ’99 we set targets to reduce our water usage by 50 percent per pound of product produced; our natural gas use by 30 percent; and our electricity use by 25 percent. Right now, we have achieved a 45 percent reduction in water, 33 percent reduction in natural gas and about a 25 percent reduction in electricity. This goes along with our initiative to drive efficiencies in our motor fuel usage, which we started a few years later. Overall, if you combine all of those reductions, Frito-Lay, as a company, would have spent about 80 million dollars more on those commodities to run our business and operations if we had not put those sustainability measures in place. When you look at profitability, these sustainability initiatives are delivering daily to the bottom line.

Continue reading

GoGreen Seattle Green Line Series: Scott Jenkins Scores Big For The Mariners With Green Savings

Scott Jenkins, Vice-President of Ballpark Operations, Seattle MarinersJust five short years ago the Mariners were a pretty typical baseball franchise when it came to sustainability. They were recycling a bit here, trying to save some energy there, but nothing too out of the ordinary. Then Scott Jenkins came in as VP of Ballpark Operations and made some changes—that’s the short and sweet version anyway.

Today the Mariner’s have a diversion rate of over 70 percent with their sights firmly locked on reaching 80+ for 2011. That’s up from 12 percent in 2005. And Jenkins’ success in this area, among others like energy efficiency, has earned support from the ballpark’s executives for other, more sweeping initiatives. In our interview, he details how he’s been able to create such dramatic impact in a shining example of winning the business case for sustainability.

GoGreen Conference: Sports and sustainability aren’t always considered natural bedfellows. Have people told you that achieving a zero-waste ballpark is impossible? If so, what’s your response?
Scott Jenkins: If you had asked even me about that three or five years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea of a zero waste facility. At that point it seemed like we generated so much waste and I couldn’t fathom how we would possibly recycle it all. We were diverting less than 20 percent of our waste, so it was inconceivable to me how we could get to the point we’re at now—and I’m a green thinking person.

But in that short period of time we’re now, during season, recycling over 80 percent of our game day waste. And it makes me really excited to see that, because now I think that we can possibly get to zero waste—though it matters a bit how you define “zero waste.” In my mind our current waste streams, with what we’ve done in the last year in switching to compostable service ware, make it very feasible for us to get to 80 percent diversion on the year. And we’re still looking for ways to get to that 90+ percent recycling rate. It’s gotten a lot closer and a lot more conceivable that I would have thought even a year ago.

GG: Your rate of recycling has increased substantially in recent years. A lot of people tackle waste because it seems like a low hanging fruit, but are you seeing benefits from a profitability standpoint? Are your efforts saving the Mariners money?
SJ: Fortunately for us, we’ve been able to make the business case for it and there are a couple of ways we’ve done that. One concerns the sheer cost of getting rid of the waste.

For us, it costs less to recycle than it does to send something to the landfill. So last year, with an average diversion rate of over 70 percent on waste, we saved about $70,000 just by recycling.  That’s a pretty good business case. Now that changes based on where you live and what it costs to send things to the landfill, but we’re able to benefit from the fact that we’ve seen growth here in terms of facilities that can handle our compostable waste in an economical way. So it makes direct bottom line sense for our club to do that and it also greens our brand—which ultimately makes bottom line sense as well.

GG: When did the importance of greening your facilities hit you?
SJ: I’ve always been green minded. I grew up appreciating the environment and the natural world, which provides us everything we need to live. I think we have to be mindful of the waste and pollution we create, and also of what we consume. As the manager of operations at the ballpark, one of my jobs is to be efficient and not waste resources—so those two things go hand in hand.

From a business standpoint it’s mostly about dollars and we’re lucky that green initiatives that save resources—like energy and water—also save money. It just makes sense all around to be as efficient as we can with energy, water and the way we handle waste. Even if I wasn’t green minded, I’d like to think I’d be doing the same kind of things, but it becomes even more fulfilling to me as a person to know that we’re lessening our impact on the environment as well as improving our bottom line.

GG: Did waste seem like a natural place to start? Or did you go through an analysis and strategic planning process of some kind?
SJ:  It started with data. Fortunately, before I came to Seattle, the data was being kept on energy and water use and recycling rates. So I had the numbers in hand. When I first took a look at the baseline, I immediately saw room to get better from what we’d done historically with those three areas—energy use, water use and recycling.

The first year, I looked at the resource use and thought we could save $100,000 in year one alone if we considered what we’d used in the first six or seven years of being in the building and stuck to a goal of keeping to the low end of usage at all times. We found that $100,000 of savings in the first six months and ended up saving around $274,000 in that year compared to the previous one. After that it became pretty obvious that there were some tremendous opportunities to save money by being more efficient—turning off equipment, using automation, setting back temperatures, decommissioning equipment once the season was over, weather stripping and faucet aerators—without actually investing any real money. I knew we were on to something pretty big.

GG: Has hitting those efficiency points without major investment helped earn buy in for more initiatives from the C-Suite?
SJ: Absolutely. You might not be able to get everyone to talk green and see the benefits of lessening our impact on the environment. It sounds good and while I’d like to be optimistic about getting everyone on board and willing to invest in those values, but the reality is that we’re a business like any other business. When you’re able to talk seriously about bottom line savings—which just happen to comes along with this “side benefit” of green opportunities—then you can get that investment you need to take it further.

In the four years since we did our baseline on energy and water, we’ve saved $1.2 million. So in 2010, I’d put a placeholder in our budget of about $500,000 as TBD capital improvements and consumption reducing investments. We’d hit that point where we needed to do that, because we’d done just about everything we could without investment. So I put this placeholder into the budget—not knowing exactly what those projects would be—and I came back after we’d approved the capital budget with a plan for the exact projects and how they would pencil out money wise. I presented well over $1 million worth of projects and they approved them all, even though the capital budget originally only had a placeholder for half that. I think that was a direct result of achieving credibility and showing how the future projects made good business sense as well.

GG: Nobody likes to talk about what stands in their way of achieving greater success with sustainability, but we also know this isn’t a cakewalk all the time. What are some of the challenges that have come up in the time you’ve been working with the Mariners on green initiatives?
SJ: The supply chain is definitely one. Trying to find greener products that meet your needs and are priced competitively. We’ve ultimately been able to do that—in paper products and cleaning chemicals—but sometimes you have to ask deep questions of your suppliers. Price will always be an issue. Performance will always be an issue.

Fortunately we have great folks in our procurement and promotions department that are on the lookout for those opportunities. And once you get people in the mindset of looking across your organization, you start finding more opportunities. You need that teamwork. You can’t do it all yourself, because you’ve likely got a full-time job already. When you’re working at a large organization, you have lots of people who impact decisions that affect your bottom line and your green status. So the more you can help develop a culture that sees the value in greening your business, the easier it will be to find the solutions. And the supply chain is wizening up as well. They’re getting more price competitive in offering products with a lesser environmental impact.

GG: Cowboy Stadium in Dallas promoted this year’s Super Bowl as the greenest ever. Obviously your ballpark is taking sustainability seriously, but are other major facilities following suit? Is there some sort of peer pressure going on to invest in going green?
SJ: Yes. Though I don’t view it so much as peer pressure as I do illuminating the opportunities that exist to save money, lessen your environmental impact and green your brand. All of which have value to a growing percentage of the population—and the executives who hold the purse strings. Those are three really compelling reasons why businesses should go green.

The exciting thing for sports businesses is that we’re very visible, public serving facilities. We touch a lot of people through the team brand and the building brand. If we can use that facet of our influence to promote sustainability and efficiency to the greater public, we’re able to make great impact just by the sheer number of people we touch. If we can do these things, then just think of the opportunities that are there for other businesses and at home. As people see this integration becoming more mainstream in the teams and buildings, I think it will open up a lot of eyes.

Scott Jenkins is the Vice-President of Ballpark Operations for the Seattle Mariners. He is also a featured speaker and case study presenter at the GoGreen Conference Seattle, Wednesday April 20 at the Convention Center. Register today to lock in Early Bird Rates (through March 1, 2011): http://seattle.gogreenconference.net/registration

To learn more about the Seattle Mariners’ sustainability initiatives and 2011 ticket information, visit: http://www.mariners.com