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P1.2: Facilities and Buildings


Companies will ensure that at least 50% of their owned or leased facilities, and all new construction, will meet rigorous green buildings standards. When siting facilities, companies will follow best practices that incorporate sustainable land-use and smart growth considerations.
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Sourcing Renewable Energy for Data Centers

In addition to traditional buildings, data centers, the facilities that house large volumes of Internet infrastructure, are significant users of energy.  Companies like Apple and eBay are taking bold steps to mitigate the carbon footprint of their data centers through robust renewable energy strategies. Read more...

Check out Roadmap in Action for more examples of how companies are implementing the Ceres Roadmap.

Globally, buildings consume roughly 40 percent of the world’s total energy. In the U.S. alone each year, buildings are responsible for approximately 38 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, 68 percent of electricity consumption and 12 percent of water consumption.5 Green buildings — known for enhancing efficiency and reducing materials, energy, and space used — present a compelling opportunity for companies seeking financial and sustainability performance gains.

Companies should begin by conducting comprehensive audits
to ascertain a baseline measurement of current resource use, efficiency, waste and employee health and safety considerations in buildings and facilities. Several guidelines exist to support this assessment, such as BREEAM and LEED, the rating systems developed respectively by the research agency BRE in the UK and by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Companies should also work with lessors to establish “green leasing” arrangements that enable them to capture accurate data on energy use, water use, materials and waste.  Companies and property managers can then work together to address these issues in line with their overall sustainability goals.  When possible, companies can also support policy efforts to strength building codes and standards in line with sustainability objectives such as creating healthy work environments and smart growth initiatives.


In The Road to 2020: Corporate Progress on The Ceres Roadmap For Sustainability, we evaluated 600 of the largest U.S. companies on their progress towards meeting the expectations laid forth in The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability.  Using data compiled and analyzed by Sustainalytics, for this expectation companies were evaluated on programs and targets for investments in sustainable buildings.  The data analyzes four sectors including Financial Services, Footwear & Apparel, Retail and Technology Hardware. As we progress towards 2020, it is expected that an increasing number of companies across sectors will implement green building

requirements for owned and leased facilities. In future reports, we will adapt the indicators to capture this data more explicitly and across a wider range of sectors.

Tier description - 3

Sixty percent of companies (61 of 102 companies) evaluated have made some investment in sustainable buildings, but only the 10 percent (11 companies) in Tier 1 have detailed programs in place for increasing investments in sustainable buildings, including specific targets and deadlines. Most of these companies are in the Retail sector where energy costs are a clear driver for improving resource efficiency. Best Buy currently has 22 stores that are LEED certified, with more than 50 others in the process of being certified. The company is retrofitting its existing stores with skylights and dimmable fluorescent lighting allowing them to take advantage of “daylight harvesting.” Best Buy’s green building program helped to reduce GHG emissions at U.S. store operations by 15 percent in fiscal 2010 (compared to 2005). It has also saved nearly $3 million through HVAC and lighting adjustments.

In addition to traditional buildings, data centers, the facilities that house large volumes of Internet infrastructure, are significant users of energy. According to the Electric Power Research Institute, data centers use 10 to 20 times more energy per square foot than a typical commercial building.6 Despite an increasing focus on data center energy efficiency, the growth of data center energy use is fast and it now accounts for roughly 2 percent of the nation's annual electricity consumption.7 The transition to cloud computing, where a company’s data is managed as an overall service versus relying on private in-house data centers, is touted as a critical solution for saving energy and emissions. However, the degree of impact depends on the type of energy used to power the data center and how efficiently it is designed and managed. Given the vast amount of information being accessed and created on a daily basis – for example, there are one billion Google searches8 and 200 million tweets per day9— energy use and GHG emissions are likely to increase.

Within this context, it is not surprising to find that 70 percent of the Technology Hardware companies are making some investments in sustainable buildings — but with only 11 percent (3 of 27 companies) in Tier 1 there is still much room for improvement. Tier 1 company, EMC, is currently building a new energy-efficient “virtual data center” that will move data from physical storage to an entirely virtualized IT infrastructure. This technology uses software solutions to support IT systems run from centralized servers. The company’s shift to virtual storage has already produced a 75 percent gain in storage utilization along with savings of roughly $23 million in operating expenses.



The data presented below is for the following priority sectors: Financial Services, Footwear and Apparel, Retail and Technology Hardware.

Click on a performance tier to view more information.

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[23] Priority Sector Companies in Mediocre in 2012