Google achieves first BIT Building Certification

By Dominic Ellis
Southface's BIT Building program allows performance improvements to buildings no matter their age or condition

Google's 6th Street campus in Kirkland, Washington is the first office campus to certify its operations under Southface's BIT Building program.

Successful certification under BIT reflects Google's adoption of the program's 16 Best Practices for resource efficiency and sustainability.

Southface's BIT Building program gives facility operators and managers the opportunity to implement performance improvements to their buildings no matter the year of construction or condition, unlike other sustainability certifications such as LEED or Energy Star.

"BIT Building is a framework for sustainability operations and maintenance of existing buildings," said Andrea Pinabell, President of Southface. "It's tailored to portfolio managers and building operators who want to generate savings and make building operations more efficient and healthier for tenants. The name refers to the small steps that eventually complete a long journey. We want clients to take efficiency efforts 'bit by bit'."

Certified BIT Pros guide participating organizations through the program's 16 Best Practices for resource savings and optimization, and the organization determines which practices to implement first. Trained BIT Aides work with program participants to monitor and benchmark building operations, evaluate potential improvements, and assist in implementing a continuous improvement plan.  

Google joins the Chicago Housing Authority in certifying buildings under the BIT Building program, representing the increasing adoption of green building practices by organizations as diverse as municipal urban housing agencies and global technology companies.

Google's engagement with BIT required extensive investigation, analysis and ultimately developing sustainability initiatives to align best practices with Google operations. Operational improvements included:

  • Achieving a campus-wide estimated energy savings of over 20% from energy audit recommendations and operational adjustments
  • A full review of the pest management program: updating approved products and removing toxic pesticides from use, implementing improved protocols focused on prevention, and adopting a better communications and feedback loop between service provider, property management, and Google
  • A roadmap to increase green purchasing by 15% and implement a battery recharging program for return to office

Google Sustainability Partner Rich Navarro notes, "At Google, we believe that sustainable workspaces are good for both people and the environment. We aim to create the healthiest possible workplaces for our employees by focusing on people in our buildings the same way Google engineers focus on the user. We were excited to use BIT as a tool for improving sustainability, and we've been thrilled with the results in Kirkland."

Jimmy Horne, who led the effort for the Kirkland office, adds: "BIT certification was a challenging but truly worthwhile process.  I am glad we had an opportunity to examine our own programs, explore and adopt a number of new ideas, and ultimately make the Kirkland facility more sustainable." 

Navarro was particularly pleased with the alignment between Google's internal efforts and the BIT rating system:  "BIT's focus on sustainable practices and constant improvement year after year was particularly important to our sustainability team. Combined with BIT's flexibility for campuses and the ability of the program to work for buildings of any age, anywhere on the globe, we felt it was a perfect fit for our needs."

"For the sustainability and health of existing buildings, we are thrilled Google Kirkland has achieved the BIT certification," Pinabell said. "With the BIT program, Southface is empowering organizations to improve the operations of their buildings; it's a great fit for Google's innovative sustainability efforts. As Southface continues its work to improve the efficiency of the existing building stock, partnering with a global organization like Google allows us to expand our reach and amplify the effort to bring resilient practices to the operations of buildings everywhere."

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