We’re always looking for opportunities to conserve energy, reduce costs, and help the planet. Here are some of the ways we reduce our facility energy use.
Leasing LEED buildings. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used third-party verification for green buildings worldwide. We prioritize leasing space in LEED-certified buildings to ensure that our employees work in offices that are optimized for energy performance. As leases expire and we relocate to LEED buildings, such moves advance our energy reduction goals. LEED buildings meet specific sustainability criteria, such as energy-efficient LED lighting, minimum daylight illumination, energy-efficient appliances and equipment, and low-flow fixtures that use 40 percent less water and save energy.
Leasing ENERGY STAR certified buildings. An ENERGY STAR certified building meets strict energy performance standards, performing better than at least 75 percent of similar buildings in the United States. That’s why we prioritize ENERGY STAR buildings when looking for a new facility.
Leveraging relationships for green. In our long-term lease locations, we leverage our relationships with landlords to influence sustainable facility investments. For example, at our headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, we have worked with the landlords to significantly improve the efficiency of systems within the 30-year-old building. First, we partnered to create a new conference center with the interior constructed to the LEED Platinum standard. In 2015 we collaborated to build out two floors (28,000 square feet) to the LEED Gold standard. Now, our landlord is working with our sustainable project management team to plan building-wide renovations that we expect will notably reduce energy usage.
Consolidating offices. In 2016, we consolidated offices, which reduced our physical footprint by 20,000 square feet, helped bring more of our employees together for collaboration, and reduced our net vacant space.
Using HVAC systems efficiently. To improve the efficiency of HVAC systems at our headquarters, we increased the frequency of maintenance from biannually to quarterly and continued that practice during 2016. We work with landlords at all of our facilities to ensure that we use and maintain our heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems as efficiently as possible—and we use them only during working hours. In some locations, ICF participates in utility demand response programs, temporarily reducing our energy consumption during peak usage periods.
Employing lighting controls. Now a standard for all new ICF offices, we’ve implemented electronic lighting controls in the offices of 40 percent of our employees. These lighting controls use motion detectors and timers to shut lights off in unoccupied spaces. One ICF facility demonstrated impressive results, reducing energy use by 20 percent.
Installing HVAC controls. We worked with our landlord to install digital thermostats and other thermostat controls in the offices of 40 percent of our employees. The controls allow us to reduce our energy usage while delivering a strong return on investment. Based on product specifications, we expect 5–10 percent reduction in energy use.
Applying green IT policies. ICF policies require all laptops to be EPEAT Gold certified and all IT equipment to be ENERGY STAR qualified and EPEAT compliant. This optimized equipment uses 25 percent less energy than alternative equipment. EPEAT is a global rating system for greener electronics that rates computers based on energy conservation, materials selection, product longevity, packaging, end-of-life management, and other sustainability indicators. We also issue laptops with the power-management setting activated so computers enter sleep mode when not in use.
Training staff to be energy vigilant. Our facilities and security personnel are trained to look for unnecessary energy use. As they make their rounds, our security staff turns off lights that are not on motion detectors or timers. In locations where we have dedicated facilities staff, they follow a standard practice of morning and evening inspections.
Empowering employees. Our employees prioritize sustainability—and that passion is a driving force of our environmental stewardship. Our volunteer-based Green Team helps ICF identify and adopt sustainable practices. Management listens and responds. For example, when employees pointed out that bottled water available in the headquarters café contributed unnecessary waste, management eliminated the practice.
Cultivating a culture of sustainability. ICF leverages corporate communication channels to engage employees, build awareness around the need for more sustainable practices, encourage increased adoption of these practices, and foster a culture of sustainability. Communicating ICF’s priority on green practices starts with our chief culture ambassador and CEO Sudhakar Kesavan—as he shared in this video for Earth Day. Messages encouraging sustainable efforts originate from across our diverse organization and from every level. Local Green Teams engage colleagues at their locations to participate in sustainability initiatives. And many of our employees join online conversations on our intranet—sharing green tips from their personal experience, seeking advice, and inviting participation for green initiatives.