On my first day as an EDF Climate Corps fellow, I walked into the Bloomberg L.P. offices in New York City and was completely blown away by the remarkable lighting displays throughout the building.
A quick tour revealed that the building has three primary functions:
• Office space
• Data centers
• Broadcast studios
I immediately realized that the bright, colorful lighting in the building was primarily installed for its artistic value and not for its functionality. I understood that my goal for the summer was to find ways of increasing energy efficiency for Bloomberg, and removing this type of lighting would be an easy way to do just that.
But it wasn’t that easy. By recommending that the lighting be replaced, I would be taking away from the building’s aesthetics, a unique part of the company’s culture. I knew that I needed to dig around for other options that wouldn’t compromise the building’s multiple purposes — not even the artistic ones.
Bloomberg has already reduced its energy consumption by 11 percent in three years, while simultaneously adding space and employees. I figured that if Bloomberg could benefit the environment while expanding its business, I could certainly get creative with my dilemma.
After the tour, I went back to my desk determined to develop a plan for tackling this complex situation. I came up with three rules to help structure my approach, and I have used them to formulate recommendations.
1. Look for Changes that Affect the Entire Building
I started by looking into what major components were used in all three types of space. I realized that focusing on mechanisms, such as ducts and HVAC systems, would yield substantial improvements and prove cost effective. These components have a large scale effect on overall energy efficiency because of their presence throughout the entire building. Cross-building projects seem complex at first, but are manageable and lead to substantial improvements in energy efficiency.
2. Separate by Primary Use
My next step was to look at the different parts of the building. I started with the office space, concentrating on the lighting. By breaking the building apart and focusing on manageable situations, it was easier to find meaningful efficiency gains. The key was focusing on specific projects that could be accomplished, instead of getting bogged down by the differences between the spaces.
3. Work Within the Culture
When determining projects, it is important to look through the lens of Bloomberg’s vibrant and energetic culture. The building’s interior aesthetics and design are an important part of what makes the Bloomberg experience so enchanting. In an attempt to keep that experience in tact, I decided to install lower watt lamps and ballasts that use less energy and do not affect the building’s aesthetic charm.
Following these three steps for identifying energy efficiency improvements in a multi-purpose building with a unique culture has allowed me to formulate a structured plan, focusing on high priority initiatives that will lead to meaningful improvements.
Brian Hartmann is a 2010 Climate Corps Fellow at Bloomberg, an MBA candidate at the Erb Institute at the University of Michigan, and a Net Impact member. Further coverage of the Climate Corps program is available at GreenBiz.com/edfclimatecorps. This content is cross-posted at the Environmental Defense Fund Innovation Exchange Blog.