It's easy and cheap being green
By Jeff Nachtigal, Fortune

(FORTUNE Magazine) -- Adobe has turned its headquarters into a towering example of environmentalism--and is saving millions in the process.

An employee at Adobe Systems (Charts) e-mailed Randy Knox III in April, wondering whether the individual coffee creamers in company break rooms were more wasteful than one big container. For Knox, Adobe's director of real estate, facilities, and security, the tiny detail warranted immediate action. Adobe is now conducting research to determine which containers will produce the least waste. "With the help of 5,500 employees, we manage to find these kinds of things," Knox says.

The coffee creamers are just a tiny example of the massive eco-friendly overhaul underway at Adobe. In June the $2 billion software maker became the first company to receive a platinum award from the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council. That makes Adobe's San Jose headquarters the greenest corporate site on record in the U.S. Even more impressive is that Adobe earned the honor by retrofitting its existing office towers (about one million square feet); most of the 151 buildings that have received the council's gold rating are new structures. By installing everything from motion detectors to waterless urinals, Adobe has reduced its electricity use by 35% and its gas consumption by 41% since 2001, at the same time that headcount has swelled 80%. More important, Adobe is proving that building green isn't just good citizenship; it's plain good business. To date, the company has invested about $1.1 million in 45 energy-efficiency projects, yielding nearly $1 million in annual savings, including about $350,000 in energy rebates. "This isn't some pie-in-the-sky kind of thing the enviros are pushing," Knox says. "It really works." The featured examples demonstrate how Adobe saved green by going green. The Adobe Checklist

To find out more about the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environment Design standards, visit usgbc.org. Top of page