USAA shows off sustainability efforts for Earth Day

Cool roofs, recycled water among larger projects at main campus

By Garrett Brnger - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - One of San Antonio's biggest employers, USAA, says it's not only trying to save the green in your pocket but also the green on your planet.

This Earth Day, KSAT 12 got an exclusive look at some of the measures the financial services company has taken in its efforts to promote sustainability and environmental stewardship at its main campus off I-10.

You'd probably expect it from a financial services company, but USAA said its sustainability and environmental stewardship efforts make sense, meaning dollars and cents.

“It's an opportunity to certainly lead from the front in some of the things that we do, but we always know that it has to make good business sense, both for our operations and for our members,” said Scott Syamken, vice president of corporate services for USAA.

Syamken said it’s not only about the money.

“At the end of the day, this is helping us on our operating expenses. It's important to our people as employees and to our members, and it's also important to our planet and to the city of San Antonio,” Syamken said.

One ongoing project has been transitioning USAA’s older tar and gravel roofs to new cool roofs or white roofs, which help cool their buildings more efficiently.

“Much like clothing, if you wear dark clothes, you tend to absorb that heat. And with a white roof, you really begin to reflect that heat back into the sky,” Syamken said.

Last year, USAA switched to using recycled water for its cooling towers rather than fresh water pumped up through its wells. The company said that means that, every year, 60 million gallons of water don't need to be pumped out of the Edwards Aquifer, which is also the city's main water source.

It’s not just big projects that are ongoing. The company said it’s taking smaller steps, too, such as encouraging employees to carpool, getting rid of Styrofoam in the cafeteria and having motion sensors that turn off lights when people aren't around.

“We’re always looking for different opportunities to employ here, but we want to make sure, again, that it's going to make sense for our operations, for our employees and our members,” Syamken said.

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