Local Chambers Save Money Through Energy-Efficient Renovations

In 2008, the Greater Waco Chamber, deep in the heart of Texas oil country, became the first local chamber of commerce to receive Gold level certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its new headquarters. The chamber proudly hailed its accomplishment as the first building in Central Texas to win Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (or LEED) certification in recognition of its best-in-class building strategies and practices.

The chamber served as a model for other organizations in its region. According to the chamber’s website, groups such as McLennan Community College, Caterpillar Logistics and Baylor University have obtained or are working toward LEED certification for new buildings in Waco.

It also set the bar for other local chambers of commerce. In recent years, the following chambers have sought LEED status for their buildings:

— The Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce in Nebraska partnered with two of its member companies to design and build a new headquarters and visitor center that is seeking LEED certification. According to a chamber news release, the region’s economic development team completed a targeted industry research project and found that renewable energy companies and “green collar, eco-friendly jobs” are priorities as the area seeks new industries. “This green facility will serve as a magnet for those companies bringing new jobs to town and show them that we are serious about going green in Norfolk.”

— At the San Luis Obispo chamber in California, a grant from Pacific Gas and Electric financed interior renovations that earned LEED certification in 2013. Among its improvements, the chamber used transom windows and added solar light tubes to bring in natural daylight. “The steps we took to pursue LEED make long-term financial sense and allow our facility to model energy efficiency practices for small and large businesses,” said Ermina Karim, chamber President and CEO. “Our chamber has long been a leader in encouraging businesses to pursue sustainability measures and the triple bottom-line.”

— The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce is working with four of its member companies on a exterior and interior remodel for which it will seek Silver LEED certification. The project will include solar and wind power on the chamber roof and is scheduled for completion during winter 2015.

Has your chamber been engaged in building retrofits? Are you thinking about a building retrofit for your chamber or helping your member companies with a similar program? Let us know, we have resources that could help! Our website also boasts a diverse list of other local chambers that have taken renewable or energy-efficient steps in their community.