The Ace Building, which received LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council (USGBC) earlier this year, played host to a ceremony yesterday to mark the occasion with Environment Minister Walter Roban, Samantha Froud, chief administration officer of Ace’s Bermuda operations, Colin Brown, vice-president of facilities and Ace building and LEED project manager, Rees Fletcher, division president of Ace Bermuda, Judith Landsberg and Andrew Vaucrosson from environmental charity of Greenrock, contractors and vendors in attendance.

Mr Brown said that the building had attained an Energy Star rating of 74 above the LEED requirement of 69 after investing in an energy audit and implementing a series of energy efficient projects such as a full lighting retrofit, HVAC upgrades and reducing plug loads through the use of timers, resulting in savings of approximately 500,000 kilowatts per hour versus 2006.

He said that in line with the company’s corporate environmental programme, which is now in its firth year, it was important to reduce the environmental impact at one of its largest owned facilities with 250,000 square-feet and around 200 employees.

“It has been a long journey our work to green the building started in 2007 when Ace joined the government recycle partnership, established Ace’s first green committee and registered the building for LEED certification,” he said.

The Ace Building was certified to Gold level under the LEED for existing buildings: operations and maintenance rating system which was designed to help the owners measure operations, improvements and maintenance on a consistent scale while maximising operational efficiency while minimising environmental impact.

The LEED project work started in earnest in 2008 with a focus on energy efficiency but to begin with the building did not meet the minimum energy requirement of a LEED building.

Having got up to speed on addressing its energy conservation issues, another strength of the project was its extensive rain water collection system a 135,000 gallon potable tank collecting off the pitched roofs and a 185,000 gallon non-potable tank collecting off the terraces and flat roofs, supplying more than 90 percent of the building’s annual water requirements or more than 1.25 million gallons per year, and key in Bermuda where water is a limited resource.

Another big change was the introduction of an extensive green cleaning programme offering several benefits to both the environment and Ace employees by reducing exposure to harmful chemicals for the building’s occupants and minimising the downstream impact of the waste. Today 85 percent of cleaning products used in the Ace Building are certified green by Green Seal or Environmental Choice.

Other measures included a comprehensive recycling programmes for TAG (tin, aluminium and glass), office paper, batteries, toners and electronic waste and an implementation of environmental policies and practices such as sustainable purchasing, pest management, indoor air quality and landscape management, while 88 percent of all electronic equipment purchased were Energy Star certified and 63 percent of office consumables, like paper, met sustainable criteria.

“Beyond our energy conservation and building management system upgrades, the LEED process was truly a collaborative effort,” said Mr Brown.

“From supportive senior management to employees dedicated to recycling, from the building management team to the purchasing department, together with a strong collaboration between our vendors and contractors, everyone played a role in helping Ace achieve LEED Gold.

“These accomplishments are just a few of the many that collectively made it possible for us to succeed. Through this project one can really see how small changes can make a big difference.

“However, our LEED journey does not end here. LEED is an ongoing project. To maintain certification we will need to continue with our green efforts and recertify every five years.”

Ms Froud said that the project was the successful culmination of three years of work and demonstrated Ace’s commitment to reducing its impact on the local environment and to operate its building as efficiently as possible.

“Ace has made a substantial commitment to reduce its carbon footprint globally and employing the steps in Bermuda for the Ace Building to become LEED Gold certified represents a major achievement in the company’s environmental mission,” she said.

“The LEED project team and Ace Green Team of employee volunteers were responsible for implementing numerous energy and water conservation initiatives, as well as recycling initiatives within the building which have been instrumental in this achievement.”

Minister Roban commended Ace on its achievement, saying that by using less energy LEED certified buildings helped to save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contributed to a healthier environment for everyone.

Citing Government’s 2011 Energy White Paper, he said that a number of initiatives had been included which focused on energy saving in buildings such as developing energy efficiency standards and renewable energy requirements, encouraging and mandating energy auditing, encouraging energy management, ensuring that consumers have access to real-time information on energy consumption, stabilising a legal framework to specifically outline how landlords bill their tenants for energy consumption and developing energy performance rating systems for buildings.

“Historically, there have been no mandatory requirements for energy efficient building design and few incentives to voluntarily develop and operate energy efficient buildings in Bermuda,” he said.

“As a result, energy and operating costs have not really been a design consideration, and therefore retrofitting buildings can often be an onerous undertaking. If we can get those matters of efficiency designed into the building from the very first stages of project planning, then we have a much better shot at sustainability and responsible use of resources.

“Operating costs of a building should be just as much a consideration as the original design and construction costs. LEED is a great way to encourage that, but changing the building codes will help even more, and we intend on making this our new reality.”

Mr Fletcher said that the accomplishment was part of Ace’s larger global environmental commitment as evidenced by five years of green achievements.

“Climate change continues to be a serious issue for the global insurance industry because it is our business to provide security against many of the risks posed by such change,” he said.

“Natural catastrophes, in the form of hurricanes, windstorms, flooding, drought and other weather-related events, may be increasing in both frequency and severity due to climate change.

“Ace’s risk management modelling and underwriting practices continue to adapt to the developing risk exposures attributed to climate change, and we continue to develop insurance products and services for clients concerned about environment and climate-related risks to their businesses around the world.

“Our responsibility is not only to provide solutions to help clients, but also to control our own environmental impact.”

Mr Fletcher said that Ace was one of 48 companies and one of three insurers named in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s 2010 Global 500 Carbon performance Leadership Index, while its office in Philadelphia became the city’s first LEED certified existing building in December 2009 when it received Silver certification from the USGBC.

“Here in Bermuda our green team has focused on initiatives such as recycling paper, removing plastic from our waste, and encouraging us all to use reusable take out containers in the cafeteria,” he said.

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