After much internal debate and analysis, Intel moved a big step closer towards obtaining its first “LEED certified” green building. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System® is a voluntary, consensus-based standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. The new Intel building, which is currently undergoing the LEED standard certification procedure, will be located in Haifa, Israel and will be home to Intel’s latest Development Design Center.
As part of the LEED certification, the new design center will use: environmentally friendly building materials and construction methods; natural and controlled lighting by means of an internal patio which infuses light into all levels from an atrium; air-conditioning and electrical system which both save and recycle energy; and an irrigation system which utilizes only recycled water. Miki Livnat, Intel’s Environmental, Health, and Safety manager for the region stated, “The project team was passionate about building a green building, and despite initial skepticism, they drove this project from a concept to a reality.”
Why did it take so long to for Intel to get its first green building? Intel engineers have been evaluating “green” design standards and steadily incorporating green building concepts and practices into the construction of its buildings for years – but the LEED design criteria present a comprehensive set of design metrics that must be satisfied to receive certification. In an environment where construction costs are increasing and every dollar is carefully scrutinized, spending money on “certification” can easily fall to the bottom of the construction priority list. “When there is a clear ROI (return on investment) for integrating individual “green features” into our building design, it’s easier to make it part of the design specifications for all building”, said Intel’s Principle Engineer Ted Reichelt. Unfortunately, not all of the requirements associated with obtaining LEED certification, like the certification process itself, have an easily measurable ROI. Intel designed and constructed world-class energy efficient buildings that met the majority of requirements for LEED certification, but they were unable to overcome the internal resistance to the certification process and associated costs and obtain the LEED designation.
What changed? “Our construction managers started hearing more about other projects being LEED certified, and this created greater internal acceptance of the idea; additionally, the costs associated with the LEED certification started to fall,” said Reichelt. Intel hopes that the experience with the Hafia building will lead to other office buildings being LEED certified and eventually to Intel’s first LEED certified Fab.