by Paul J. Heney, Editorial Director
At the recent “Making it Here” renewable energy conference in Cleveland, Steve Melink, CEO, Melink Corp., spoke about his Cincinnati-area company’s green campus. Melink Corp., which is in the business of selling green products to national restaurant, retail, supermarket, and hotel chains, among other businesses, decided to build its own corporate headquarters as green as possible.
The resulting campus has been rated LEED Platinum campus and is net zero energy, according to Steve Melink. He said the campus is a showcase for what they do as a company. And he said he was concerned that the U.S. might be falling behind in what may become a green engineering economy.
“There was the Space Age, the computer age, the internet economy—and the U.S. has led all of those,” Melink said. “Next is the clean energy economy and we are at risk of not being the leader there.”
Let’s look at the numbers. Melink said that the original incremental cost when building was built in 2005 was $250,000. Improvements made from 2006-2009 totaled $250,000 and further improvements added in 2010-2011 were $250,000. Net costs after tax credits and grants were $25/sq-ft for the 30,000 sq-ft complex. The average office energy cost is $250/sq-ft/year, so a similar size bldg is $75,000/year. A simple payback calculation is $750,000/$75,000/year = 10 year payback, and ROI = 10%.
But a lot of people would have stopped there, but Steve Melink didn’t. He started turning the thermostat in the building a degree colder on occasion after seeing employees working in short sleeve shirts during the winter months. Eventually, employees became accustomed to the temperature and wore heavier clothes in to the office. Melink even purchased $500 italian sweaters for all the employees, because he wanted them comfortable—he just didn’t want to throw money away on unnecessary heating costs.
Melink Corp. also leases a fleet of hybrid cars and has built charging stations on the campus. Steve Melink said that more than half of their employees now drive hybrids or electric cars.
“We could not have paid for in advertising what we have reaped in PR,” said Melink. “And now we can attract a different kind of employee.”
Given that HR/payroll costs are a major expense to any company, green seems to be paying off for Melink, even in unexpected ways.
Filed Under: Design World articles, Energy management + harvesting, Green engineering