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ACE becomes Bermuda’s first LEED certified building

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As one of the first buildings in Bermuda to receive the Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, the ACE building has set a precedent for other buildings across the Island to consider the environment.

And it shouldn’t be something for just new builds to aspire to.

The ACE building located on Woodbourne Avenue is ten years old this year, and the company managed to rack up credits in the environmental categories for sustainable sites and water efficiency, among other environmental steps that the company has implemented over the past three years.

“We were graded quite highly for our water efficiency based on our use of water catchments,” explains Amy Shillingford, ACE’s director of Bermuda communications and the chairman of ACE’s Green Team.

The building’s extensive rainwater collection system contributes over 90 percent of the building’s annual water requirements and avoids purchase of municipal water, explains Ms Shillingford. It’s a testament to the fine example that Bermuda can make for the rest of the world based on our ability to catch our own water.

Ms Shillingford adds the water conservation, which was already part of the building before they started the LEED certification project, has saved the company approximately $50,000.

“Due to the existing water collection systems and the fact that the building was constructed and occupied in 2001, beyond energy efficient upgrades, there were truly minimal structural changes required for LEED certification. The majority of change came by changing building operations, settings, implementing polices and encouraging changes in employee behaviour,” she says.

The LEED certification programme for the Bermuda building began in 2007 when ACE’s CEO Evan Greenberg rolled out an ACE green initiative throughout the company.

“ACE is committed to reducing our impact on the environment wherever we do business,” says Ms Shillingford.

ACE’s Philadelphia office became the city’s first LEED certified existing building in 2009, and the company has offices in 53 countries. The company also ranked 6th in the banks and insurance sector and 64th overall in a 2010 Newsweek magazine Green Rankings of America’s 500 largest public companies. That same year the company was named to the Carbon Performance Leadership Index by the Carbon Disclosure Project, an independent organisation that gathers and scores primary corporate carbon emissions information from thousands of businesses around the world.

In Bermuda, ACE’s Colin Brown, vice president of facilities and LEED project manager, was also a LEED accredited professional something that garnered the company further credits.

Ms Shillingford says, “One thing Colin noted was that the building already had been built to make implementing energy efficiencies quite easily.”

Along with sustainable sites and water efficiency, other categories that were considered by the US Green Building council, who awards LEED certifications, were energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovations in operations.

While within the building energy efficient projects took place such as lighting retrofits, an implementation of a green cleaning policy to reduce the amount of chemicals used in the building, and a landscape management plan that reduced the amount of fertiliser used by using native landscaping, the employees have also had a hand in reducing the building’s environmental impact.

The company’s Green Team has started several initiatives to help employees understand what the LEED certification means, and made some changes that have had monumental effects on both the company’s environmental standings and their bottom line.

“We’ve started a lot of programmes to educate and encourage our employees to be more environmentally aware,” says Ms Shillingford. “We realised that we were going through over 60,000 plastic bottles a year, so we’ve given each employee a SIGG reusable bottle, as well as canvas grocery bags and blue recycle bags.”

Eliminating disposable plastic water bottles saved the company approximately $76,000 a year.

The team has really focused on the plastic being thrown away by the company, as that is one of the things that cannot be recycled in Bermuda at this time.

“We did a waste audit to see what was going into the waste stream and to see what we could remove like plastic,” explains Ms Shillingford. “We try to encourage employees to eat in the cafeteria on the crockery but if they have to go back to their desks we’ve provided them with their own reusable containers. We have dish washers in each kitchen so they can be washed and reused the next day.”

Sugar cane-based disposable containers now replace Styrofoam in the cafeteria.

The company joined the Bermuda Government’s Recycle Partnership in 2007 and introduced a formal recycling policy to the company in early 2008. They now recycle TAG, office paper, batteries and electronic waste, and have partnered with Cartridge World and have fitted printers with reusable toner cartridges.

“Each employee also has a box to recycle their paper and we encourage double-sided printing. The paper we use is Earth Choice paper harvested from sustainable forest and is Forest Stewardship Council certified,” says Ms Shillingford.

The paper is recycled by local data solutions company Guardian and is all securely destroyed before being recycled.

“Through employee education and sustainable purchasing, we’ve reduced paper usage by 10 percent in 2010 over 2009,” she adds.

Other savings through sustainable purchasing have been showcased during the company’s annual Christmas raffle.

“Everything that we gave away through the Christmas raffle had to be green themed organic facials, water filtration system, gift certificates for Frances Eddy’s Grow Your Own seminars, a composter really anything that would help our employees think green.”

The Green Team, which consists of about 15 members from all areas and levels of the company, get their environmental message out to employees through the company’s monthly newsletter and their Lunch and Learn seminars. The newsletter dedicates space to environmental news to provide employees with regular updates on LEED initiatives and environmental tips.

“We try and have Lunch and Learn seminars focused on environmental concerns,” says Ms Shillingford. “We’ve had many people come and give talks including people from Greenrock, Vanese Flood Gordon from Waste Management and film maker Choy Aming who showed his movie My Backyard.”

The company also encourages community service outside of the office, and many ACE employees and their families have joined KBB during their cleanups throughout the year. Others regularly volunteer for Bermuda Audubon Society; Save Open Spaces; Bermuda, Aquarium, Museum and Zoo; and Bermuda National Trust.

“We’ve achieved a big goal gaining LEED certification but we still have some challenges and want to focus on the cafeteria and how we can successfully compost our food waste. We are always looking for the opportunity to reduce our impact.”

Some of the members of the ACE Green Team with their new LEED certification plaque.
Colin Brown, vice president facilities and LEED project manager with Samantha Froud, chief administration officer, ACE Group.

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Published September 01, 2011 at 3:06 pm (Updated September 01, 2011 at 3:06 pm)

ACE becomes Bermuda’s first LEED certified building

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