USAA wins national 'green' award

USAA's McDermott building receives LEED award


SAN ANTONIO – USAA is one of the top businesses in the country and it is now housed in one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the country.

"We are committed to conduct business as responsible stewards of our natural resources," said Les Hansen, executive director of the company's Facilities, Engineering and Sustainability.

They are such good stewards, USAA has received a LEED award -- the U.S. Green Council awarding the McDermott building a Gold-Level certification in Energy and Environmental Design.

The building is three-quarters of a mile long, four stories tall, covers 4 million square feet and sits on nearly 300 acres in Northwest San Antonio.

The building has gone through several green transformations.

The lights in offices and the parking garages have been retrofitted to save energy. The lights and AC system are on timers.  The 68 escalators are turned off at night when they are not being used.

Employees have managed to reduce paper use by 17 percent.

When they head to the cafeteria, they won't find any Styrofoam. Food containers are recyclable, as well as the cups.

The bathrooms have been retrofitted with low-flow toilets and aerators are on the sink fixtures.

"You think, ‘So what, I saved one gallon per person per day,' but, when you consider that we have over 240 restrooms on our campus here, that adds up very fast," Hansen said.

The grounds are kept green by using recycled water purchased from SAWS.  The water is held in lakes around the campus.

The company also helping with emissions. Employees can use company cars to carpool to work, cutting down on pollution.

USAA also encourages their employees to save energy at home as well as work with displays around the building reminding them how to reduce their energy use.

"The more we engage our employees, the better off we are going to be," Hansen said.

Not only are they helping the environment go green, they are also putting a little green back into the company.

"Our payback has been three times what we invested," Hansen said.

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