Friday, Feb. 6, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Green building in Southern Nevada is no longer the sole realm of office-park developers, hotels and tree huggers.
As the state’s main electric utility opens its first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified building next month, sustainable construction will have officially gone mainstream.
NV Energy is putting the finishing touches on a command center in the southern valley designed to meet the needs of residents in Henderson, Spring Valley, Industrial Road and parts of Laughlin.
It expects the first workers to move in around late March or early April.
The 280,000-square-foot operational center will consolidate work space for the utility’s southern information technology office, planning division, meter reader hub, fleet and management yard, warehouse space and other departments.
About 350 people will work in the building, with more coming as growth resumes in the southern valley.
It will also house the company’s new mobile substations, which will be able to bring emergency power to neighborhoods or command centers for natural disasters.
“This is a consolidation of several facilities into one — it’s more efficient,” said Frank Del Toro, general manager of special projects for NV Energy. “We’re upgrading our space. We’re consolidating existing sporadic placement of our facilities to one center and upgrading our technology. Our old center was reminiscent of the 1960s. We’re going state-of-the-art.”
The company is seeking platinum-level LEED certification for the structure, a status it is eligible for because of various construction delays.
Previously, the company sought silver-level existing building certification and at one point abandoned its pursuit of LEED certification.
The company decided to resume its goal of LEED certification after discovering it didn’t drive up costs more than 1 percent and hearing of the less tangible benefits of green buildings such as reduced absenteeism and improved productivity.
It also fits in with the company’s new marketing push to show itself as a “green” company as it contracts for more renewable energy generation and tries to build a coal plant in Ely.
“What we looked at was people work better when they’re in an environment that’s better for them in terms of their health,” Del Toro said. “We also wanted to lessen our impact on the environment and lighten our carbon footprint. We looked at how we affect the environment as we produce and distribute power.”
In addition to the typical low volatile organic compound carpets and paint, the site also boasts lots of recycled and reused products, including recycled paint (leftover paint mixed together to make new colors), recycled and reused cabinetry, cubicles, linoleum and tile, reconstituted steel shelving in the warehouse (made from melted scrap), and concrete and cement with recycled content, including some that reuse fly ash.
The building is also more sustainable because it can meet the company’s office space needs far into the future.
The building will have about 100,000 square feet of unfinished expansion space that can accommodate growth in the southern valley.
To help gain LEED points, the company is planning to purchase electric and alternative fuel vehicles for its fleet and is considering installing urban wind turbines, solar photovoltaic window screens and an rooftop photovoltaic system.
“There’s a feel-good factor of ‘Wow I’m doing my part for the environment because my desk is recycled or my cleaning materials are green and biodegradable,’ ” Del Toro said. “People are happy about that and people work better in those environments.”