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UPS Earns LEED Gold Status for Corporate Offices in Atlanta

Despite UPS headquarters being 20 years old, the company just announced that it has become the first in the package delivery and logistics industry to gain LEED Gold Certification from the US Green Building Council. UPS submitted the building for review in May 2011 (shortly after the appointment of Chief Sustainability Officer Scott Wicker) and says it's the first of many to be assessed for certification.

“Our plan is to assess all new facilities and some existing facilities to see if they qualify for LEED,” Wicker said in a press release.

So how, as a 20-year-old building, was it actually accomplished?

It turns out that one of the requirements for LEED certification is that the building stands on a sustainable site. We were surprised to learn that only six of UPS’s 35 acres are actually developed. The remainder is Piedmont Forest, an untouched wildlife preserve. An arborist was used during construction and the company planted more than 900 trees after when the site was finished in the 1990s.

The nearby forest and concrete roof both have a positive impact on the efficiency of the building by reducing the heat from the rays of the hot Georgia sun that hits the interior. Solar shading and thermal insulation glazes were also used to reduce the incoming rays.

But that’s not all. Over the years, plumbing fixtures have been upgraded which have reduced the building’s water usage by 39 percent and lighting throughout the complex is fully automated to conserve power during off hours. Engineers at the UPS facility continually document the site’s energy efficiency and found that by taking specific steps it has saved the company more than $100,000 per year in energy costs.

UPS also announced in the same press release that it was awarded the Energy Star certification from the EPA for its corporate headquarters. The certification means that the facility uses less energy, is less expensive to operate and generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions than most similar buildings in the United States.

Wicker said, “In 1994, when this building was completed, it was built to rigorous environmental standards that were ahead of their time. LEED and Energy Star show we continue to be as energy-efficient behind our desks as we are behind the wheels of our famous brown trucks.”

And energy-efficient on the streets they certainly are – over the holiday delivery period UPS delivery men were spotted in this Newport, RI neighborhood pedaling bikes attached with carts delivering packages. According to UPS, in small neighborhoods drivers are parking the truck and using this alternative way of delivery. While a few trips do need to be made back to the truck, one UPS driver said it keeps him in shape so he isn’t too upset about it.

Over the past few years we’ve seen UPS quickly move forward in sustainable initiatives, including its reduction in per package fuel consumption, its smart pickup program and, in 2010, they added 245 new delivery trucks powered by Compact Natural Gas (CNG). We’re looking forward to what’s next.

For more information and articles, check out the article series of Greener Shipping From UPS on TriplePundit.

Kara DiCamillo

Kara is 3p's writer from New England. In her Newport, RI community, Kara is the organizer of Green Drinks Newport, is a member of Newport's Energy & Environment Commission, is a volunteer for the Neighborhood Energy Challenge, Norman Bird Sanctuary, and has also volunteered as a panelist for Rhode Island Farmways, speaking to farmers from around the state about how they can better market and promote their businesses. Beyond the moat that surrounds her island home, Kara has backpacked Mt. Washington in New Hampshire too many times to count and she hopes her next adventure will be to ski the gnarly Tuckerman's Ravine. Kara is a member of the Appalachian Mountain Club, a graduate of the Colorado Outward Bound School and in real life, she is a public relations director who'd just plain like to see the world a greener place. Kara has been writing for TreeHugger.com since January 2005 and began writing for 3p in January 2010.

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