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Are The Valley’s Green Corporate Office Buildings Overhyped?

Google's New Silicon Valley Headquarters
Google’s New Silicon Valley Headquarters

In a recent opinion piece by Lloyd Alter over at Treehugger, he points out some disturbing data regarding the employees themselves. Sure, the green buildings are fantastic, but parking spaces for better than 10,000 vehicles mean there is a lot more carbon being generated by these companies than we give them credit for. In fact, commuters could be consuming 50% more energy than the buildings they work in.

This is a very interesting point, so consider the employees in the area that, for example, Google’s new buildings will go. The average commute is thirty minutes at 14.3mph, which translates to some 6,300 gallons of fuel daily, just to get employees to work on time. [6,300gal of gasoline generates nearly a quarter million pounds of carbon dioxide.] If the green buildings aren’t enough to clear the air, is there something else they should be doing?

One step at a time, Mr. Alter, we’ve got a long way to go before a company as a whole can really call itself green. It’s not pointless, but it is a step in the right direction. What would be a green building, really? Here’s my idea: Build carbon-negative green buildings, generate electricity and hydrogen onsite using only renewable energy, and give all your employees zero-emissions company vehicles. With enough preparation and investment, the biggest, most profitable companies need to set the example and invest in these technologies, to show it can be done.

Image©NBBJ Architects

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