Cashman Equipment, a Caterpillar dealer, currently is constructing new corporate headquarters, which will meet the requirements of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.
The new facility, located on 3300 St. Rose Parkway in Henderson, Nev., is on 53 acres and will feature 300,000 sq. ft. of sustainable building.
Like other businesses who are “going green,” Cashman faces challenges associated with sustainable, or green, building such as the price tag.
According to the USGBC, LEED requirements increase the cost of a project as little as 1 percent for the LEED Silver or Gold designation and as much as 4 percent for the highest certification level, LEED Platinum.
Roger Thomas, Burke & Associates’ senior project manager for work on Cashman’s headquarters, attributes the price hike to simple inexperience in multiple areas.
“Las Vegas needs veteran contractors and subcontractors,” Thomas said. “While we are making considerable progress, the industry still needs extensive communications and education for every person involved in the LEED process.”
Training for an entire company, from executives to front-line laborers, is the key ingredient for efficiently meeting LEED building requirements and submitting the appropriate documentation to the USGBC. Thomas also cited a need for even more LEED Accredited Professionals (AP) to help mold the construction industry to its most productive level.
There are more than 75 LEED projects currently registered for LEED certification in Nevada. According to the USGBC Web site, an upfront investment of 2 percent in green building design, on average, results in life cycle savings of 20 percent of the total construction costs — more than ten times the initial investment.
Cashman Equipment’s CFO Jim Moore agreed.
“When you look at the big picture, the tax incentives and ROI [return on investment] make this a sound business decision as well as an environmentally positive one,” Moore said.
The geothermal energy aspect of the project is a major contributor to Cashman’s qualification for Nevada’s property abatement tax, which stipulates a yearly property tax savings of 30 percent for LEED Gold certified buildings. These savings, combined with the 45 percent energy savings Cashman expects, make the cost of installing 65 mi. (86 km) of underground pipe for the geothermal system an easy hurdle for CFOs to conquer.
Planning, Construction Challenges
To effectively achieve a LEED designation, two architectural schematics must be created, thus increasing a project’s overall timeframe. A standard building model must be crafted first, using conventional building systems, then a sustainable design must be created.
In addition, the sustainable design is not a finite document — it can and will be changed several times before the completion of the facility.
Las Vegas in particular generates design dilemmas that require multiple alterations.
“To gain LEED points for indoor quality of life, there must be outdoor views for 90 percent of the employees,” Thomas explained. “Yet, because of our climate, too many windows increase the heat to a point where the A/C energy expenditure rises. We then infringe on our LEED energy efficiency credits. A delicate balance must be maintained.”
Cashman had done three redesigns to rectify the plans until both areas were covered.
However, there are many design elements that outweigh these concerns — most notably, natural resource preservation and employee retention.
The concept of LEED serves to minimize the impact of industrial progress on the environment through water conservation, energy efficiency, and recycling requirements. A healthier employee atmosphere also is encouraged by LEED indoor environmental quality standards, which call for increased natural light, 30 percent more air ventilation, and low volatile organic compound (VOC) gas emissions from adhesives, sealants, paint, and carpeting.
“The abundant environmental benefits may be the most apparent reason for a company to ’go green’, but it was not Cashman’s only consideration. The benefits to our employees’ well-being were also of paramount importance,” said MaryKaye Cashman, chairman and CEO of Cashman Equipment.
LEED’s benefits help customers and employees as well as the community at large. LEED requirements needed to earn a point for regionally manufactured material require that at least 10 percent of a project’s building materials are extracted and manufactured within 500 mi., with an another LEED point awarded for using 20 percent.
Cashman’s project goes beyond this mark and achieves Exemplary Performance by hitting the 40 percent mark. By using regional concrete, gravel, drywall and native plants.
“This is an opportunity to save natural resources while strengthening our area’s job market,” Thomas said.
Cashman Equipment Company, a Caterpillar equipment dealer, provides new and used equipment for sale and rental, as well as parts and service to construction, paving, mining, truck engine and power system industries throughout Nevada and parts of California.
Cashman is scheduled to relocate its corporate headquarters to Henderson, Nev., in late 2008.
For more information, visit www.cashmanequipment.com.