Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Green Team Lunch and Learn

by Jennifer Wemhoff, Program Manager
Yesterday I presented two "Lunch and Learn" sessions at Assurity Life Insurance in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Assurity's Green Team offers these sessions on a quarterly basis on various environmental topics.  As part of the Foundation's "Bridging the Gap" project, funded by the Nebraska Environmental Trust, I spoke to an engaged group of associates about groundwater and its importance, the need to conserve water in this time of drought, how Assurity is doing its part to be environmentally friendly, and how Assurity's efforts could be duplicated in their own homes.
I was blown away by the steps taken by Assurity in constructing their new facility.  They are in the process of applying for Gold Certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and they took extra steps to ensure the building is a pleasant place for their employees to work, such as ensuring over 90% of the interior spaces having a view of the exterior landscape.
Some of the unique sustainability features include:
  • Water savings: The use of dual-flush toilets and low-flow faucets and showers add up to a 33 percent water use savings over the typical office building. 
  • Stormwater collection: An abandoned public storm water pipe running along the east and northern edges of the property has been capped and used as a cistern to reclaim and reuse storm water for site irrigation purposes. Bioswales and a rain garden capture excess rain water to irrigate the site’s indigenous, sustainable landscaping. Reuse of large quantities of storm water runoff reduces heat island effects as well as impacts to downstream receiving waters.
  • Landscape water use reduction: Alongside a reclaimed cistern, water for the facility’s landscape will be pulled from wells in the area instead of using public water for irrigation. Additionally, plants have been selected that are native or specifically adaptive to Lincoln’s climatic conditions, reducing reliance on additional water use while creating habitat within the city.
  • Green roofs: Several of the building’s roof areas are green (living) roofs. Green roofs protect and increase the lifespan of the roof envelope by two to three times. They also reduce heating and cooling loads, mitigate the urban heat island effect, benefit storm water quality and reduce the quantity of runoff,
  • Automated artificial lighting controls: The use of occupancy sensors and timed lighting reduces the impact on building energy consumption.
  • Recycled content in materials: Over 20 percent of the materials of this building incorporate recycled content. This reduces the impacts resulting from extraction and processing of virgin materials.
  • High-efficiency and low-emitting vehicles: Priority parking is given to users of highefficiency and low- emitting vehicles, providing a perk to building users who drive vehicles that are environmentally friendly. 
To learn more about the sustainability features of the Assurity Center and its lead certification, please visit

What environmental efforts are you taking at your worksite and/or home?

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