National Geographic Society Headquarters
National Geographic Society sets an example with green headquarters
At a Glance
- $300,000 — The estimated annual energy savings achieved by the National Geographic Society as a result of energy efficiency and water conservation upgrades to its headquarters buildings.
- 1st — National Geographic Society headquarters became the first facility in the nation to achieve LEED-EB certification.
The challenge: Bringing century-old buildings up to 21st century energy efficiency levels
The National Geographic Society has been inspiring people to care about planet Earth since the organization’s inception in 1888. So it stands to reason that the Society would want to lead by example. One way to do so was to make its headquarters in Washington, DC more energy-efficient and sustainable – in other words, greener. It was a commendable task, though not necessarily an easy one.
The National Geographic Society is a non-profit organization, so funds for office building efficiency efforts were limited. Also challenging was the fact that its headquarters isn’t a single building, but a complex of buildings – one of which is more than 100 years old – comprising 899,000 square feet of space. Any retrofits or new equipment installations would involve tearing down walls and re-routing a considerable amount of old wiring and piping. Plus, the work had to be done at a time of year that would inconvenience the fewest number of occupants and visitors, limiting when these improvements could be made. Nevertheless, the chance to significantly lower energy costs and reduce the Society’s carbon footprint was a compelling reason to proceed. Equally compelling was an opportunity to become the first facility in the country to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) certification under a program established by the U.S. Green Building Council® in 2002.
The solution: Comprehensive energy and water conservation upgrades
After Johnson Controls initially introduced the National Geographic Society to the LEED-EB program, the next step was for the company and the Society to work together to achieve the program’s goals. They entered into a performance contract that would guarantee both energy savings and the attainment of LEED-EB certification. Johnson Controls implemented a broad range of improvements to reduce energy usage, including:
- upgrading HVAC and lighting systems
- replacing chillers, boilers, and air handling systems with more efficient equipment
- installing digital building control systems
Finding ways to conserve water was also a key goal. To that end, Johnson Controls installed flush valves and low-flow faucet aerators to reduce water usage in restrooms, and irrigation system rain gauge controls to prevent over-watering the grounds outside the buildings.
Johnson Controls also worked with the National Geographic Society to change some of its building operating practices. For example, one way the company helped the Society create a more energy-efficient building was by reducing scheduled start and stop times for certain equipment by as much as 15 minutes.
Results and benefits
Since the retrofits and upgrades were installed and implemented, the National Geographic Society has saved an estimated 8 to 11 percent on energy costs, which comes to about $300,000 a year. In addition, the upgrades as a whole – valued at approximately $7 million – have significantly increased the value of the Society’s facilities. That’s important, because higher valuation improves the Society’s credit rating, and that in turn will enable it to borrow money when needed at a lower rate than if it had not performed these upgrades.
Finally, the National Geographic Society did in fact become the first U.S. facility to achieve LEED-EB certification.
Participating in the LEED-EB program with Johnson Controls has been an excellent benchmarking tool that will allow us to continue to measure our environmental stewardship efforts going forward.
– Robert Cline, Vice President of General Services, National Geographic Society
Johnson Controls can help identify and implement office energy efficiency solutions to make your buildings work more efficiently, sustainably, and profitably. Contact us to learn how or try our operational and energy savings calculator today.