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Alcoa Corporate Center

How can a high performance headquarters reinforce corporate sustainability strategies?

Alcoa, a global leader in mining, refining and smelting Alumina, has been committed to corporate wide sustainability initiatives since the 1980’s. Alcoa began to report and actively reduce emissions as early as 1993 and has reduced absolute greenhouse gas emissions 37% as of 2010 against their 1990 baseline targets. They’ve won numerous global sustainability leadership awards and have begun to effectively implement strategic sustainability initiative across the corporation.

The management staff at Alcoa’s corporate headquarters has similarly been committed to sustainable building operations since the innovative high performance design was completed in 2002. evolveEA was hired to steward the LEED for Existing Building Operations and Maintenance (EBOM) certification process for the building.  We evaluated Alcoa’s existing building performance across a number of metrics such as water and energy usage, procurement and site management; supported implementation and formalization of policies and practices; and provided suggestions for improvement in several additional areas.

The results provide strong evidence that corporate wide sustainability commitments leverage operational excellence—Alcoa’s corporate headquarters and operations staff are a testament of that commitment.

LEED for Operations and Maintenance as a tool for operational improvement

For the Alcoa building management team, pursuing LEED for Operations and Maintenance certification was a logical next step. As a corporate leader, they already had many formalized sustainability tracking systems in place across major operational elements. Further, appropriate building personnel and sub contractors were well informed team members, and willing to adjust practices as needed to meet LEED requirements.  So while the process of preparing the EB O&M submittal is intense and demanding, it provided opportunities for engagement of personnel and improvement of performance indicators across building operations.

The Alcoa Corporate Center faced a number of challenges, and the LEED process highlighted areas for improvement. As a result the building continually improved its Energy Star score and is now eligible for an Energy Star with a rating of 76. A number of improvements were made to air handling equipment, improving efficiency and indoor air quality, and green cleaning practices and policies were improved.  These initiatives have led to 1.2 million kBtu total energy savings, accounting for 15% of energy costs and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Operating a headquarters for the future

Alcoa’s LEED certification is, in many ways, a stepping stone. While the project team is pleased to verify that in fact Alcoa runs a high performance green building operation, future goals and certifications are already being discussed. The LEED credits not achieved have provided incentives and illustrate other areas for improvement.

The Alcoa headquarters was inspired by former chairman Paul O’ Neill. “It’s a place where people matter. The entire building is your office, and within the building everyone works collaboratively.”  This spirit has continued through their ever-improving sustainability practices and proactive facilities management. evolveEA is proud to facilitate both verification of past success and highlight future opportunities for environmental and organizational improvement.