Going Green Now Includes IT Infrastructure at Buck Institute

The Buck Institute for Age Research has received LEED® for Commercial Interiors Silver certification for a build out of new laboratory space, including an Innovation in Design Credit for Information Technology Infrastructure. The Design Credit is believed to be among the first of its kind in the nation. The certification, for a commercial interior, comes from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED is the USGBC’s leading rating system for designing and constructing the world’s greenest, most energy efficient, and high performing buildings.

The Buck Institute project involved the build-out of 11,000 square feet of new laboratory space (The Larry L. Hillblom Center for Integrative Studies of Aging) in an existing building. Planners were able to reduce the use of toxic/hazardous materials (copper data cable) by 55 percent. They were also able to substitute less hazardous, re-usable materials in the build-out, namely limited-combustion jacketed copper data cable.

“The Buck Institute’s LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “The urgency of USGBC’s mission has challenged the industry to move faster and reach further than ever before, and the Buck Institute serves as a prime example with just how much we can accomplish.”

“We were pleased that the USGBC recognized us for our efforts,” said Ralph O’Rear, Vice President for Facilities at the Buck Institute, who noted that the Institute saved at least $4,500 by reducing the use of expensive copper data cable. “We have a long-standing commitment to utilize environmental best practices wherever we can – we will continue to include green IT infrastructure in all of our future projects”.

GreenIT® provided consultancy services on the build out. “We were honored to have the opportunity to assist the Buck Institute in meeting its goal of LEED certification – including the Innovation Credit for IT infrastructure,” said Richard Hodges, CEO of GreenIT. “We know that any truly ‘green’ building project must include IT sustainability; we are committed to creating practical solutions that organizations can implement to achieve measurable results.”

GreenIT helped the Buck Institute reduce the use of copper data cable from an estimated 22,000 linear feet of 4-pair cable to slightly more than 10,000 feet by designing a converged Ethernet network in an “Active Zone” topology, where Ethernet switches that provide connectivity for both voice and data are located in ceiling boxes and are connected using fiber optic cable instead of copper cables. (call for PDF of diagram) This moved the active electronics out nearer the end devices that connect to them. The reduction in cable used eliminated the need for approximately 174 pounds of virgin-mined copper, using instead about 400’ of additional fiber optic cable, a far more environmentally benign product. GreenIT also obliged cabling contractors to follow LEED requirements for the management and removal of waste from packaging and installation, and generally to abide by the spirit of LEED.

The 22,000 feet of data cabling used in a traditional design would use approximately 319 pounds of PVC plastic, including six to 25 pounds of lead used as a “stabilizer” for the plastic compounds in the cable jacket. The PVC plastic jacket of ordinary data cables has no recovery value and there is no completely safe method of recycling it. Buy using FEP-jacketed Limited Combustible (LC) cable for this project, all PVC’s and lead for data cables were eliminated. Instead, the cables are jacketed in an FEP plastic that can be completely recovered and re-used by the manufacturer in a cradle-to-cradle closed loop.

The Innovation Credit also encompassed a more general approach to “green IT”. The Buck has established a program of “smart upgrading” – as computing needs expand with the expansion of the Institute, the Information Systems department explores new ways to save energy while meeting the need to increase our computing capacity. The Institute also decreases e-waste, by recycling or selling older equipment. The Institute also has a recycling program for employees’ work-related and personal e-waste.

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